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Covid outbreak at Cranswick meat plant as 144 staff catch virus

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covid outbreak at cranswick meat plant as 144 staff catch virus

Around 140 people have tested positive for coronavirus at a Norfolk meat processing factory, it has emerged today.

Norfolk County Council said there had been a ‘significant outbreak’ of Covid-19 at the Cranswick Country Foods site in Watton.

Some 300 members of staff at the factory have been tested so far, with the remaining employees due to be swabbed today.

The outbreak comes as 75 workers at a Bernard Matthews turkey plant in Great Witchingham, Norfolk, also tested positive for coronavirus earlier this month. 

There has been a 'significant outbreak' of Covid-19 at the Cranswick Country Foods site in Watton (pictured)

There has been a 'significant outbreak' of Covid-19 at the Cranswick Country Foods site in Watton (pictured)

There has been a ‘significant outbreak’ of Covid-19 at the Cranswick Country Foods site in Watton (pictured)

The council’s director of public health, Dr Louise Smith, said the local authority was working with the Joint Biosecurity Centre to urge people in the Watton area to get tested if they have symptoms.

She said in a statement: ‘Testing of staff at Cranswick Foods has revealed a significant outbreak.

‘At this stage we have identified about 140 positive cases out of around 300 tested so far. The analysis of swabs continues and the remaining staff on site are being tested today and tomorrow.

‘Due to the high proportion of positive case results received so far, we are liaising with the Joint Biosecurity Centre and have stepped up contact tracing and leafletting in the Watton area, urging people with symptoms to access testing.’

Cranswick Country Foods has been contacted for comment. 

As of October 15 there had also been 72 positive cases at Bernard Matthews' food processing facility in Holton near Halesworth

As of October 15 there had also been 72 positive cases at Bernard Matthews' food processing facility in Holton near Halesworth

As of October 15 there had also been 72 positive cases at Bernard Matthews’ food processing facility in Holton near Halesworth 

Some 75 workers also tested positive at a Bernard Matthews turkey plant in Great Witchingham, Norfolk

Some 75 workers also tested positive at a Bernard Matthews turkey plant in Great Witchingham, Norfolk

Some 75 workers also tested positive at a Bernard Matthews turkey plant in Great Witchingham, Norfolk 

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Chilled and damp interior with ultraviolet light: Why meat plants are a hotbed for coronavirus outbreaks

The virus thrives in cold, damp and indoor environments, particularly on cool surfaces.

The lack of a breeze or ultraviolet light from the sun means the moisture remains and can’t be killed off inside food processing plants.

Furthermore, social distancing is particularly difficult in workplaces with a busy production line meaning the virus is likely to spread more easily.

Loud machinery also forces people to raise their voices and researchers say situations where people have to shout result in an increased risk of projecting the virus to others.

It’s not just in the UK where a trend has been seen, either, after hundreds tested positive in a Berlin slaughterhouse, while a wet market in Wuhan is believed to have been at the heart of a huge number of infections early on in the crisis.  

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The local authority said testing at the Bernard Matthews turkey plant began on October 15, with more than 600 members of staff tested.

‘Results showed that the majority of positive cases so far worked on the afternoon shift at the site, leading Public Health to advise Bernard Matthews that the entire shift be instructed to self-isolate,’ Norfolk County Council said.

As of October 15 there had also been 72 positive cases at Bernard Matthews’ food processing facility in Holton near Halesworth, Suffolk County Council said.

In Suffolk, Bernard Matthews brought in Covid-19 bus marshals on its free staff transport as part of its response to the outbreak.

Food production at the processing facility has not been affected by the Covid outbreak.

The site has had controls in place since March to reduce coronavirus infections, including regular temperature checks, staff working in bubbles, Covid marshals, masks and visors and social distancing.

The majority of the 18 workers who tested positive live in the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft areas and the cases are believed to have been caught in the community.

Officials including from Suffolk County Council, Public Health England and Bernard Matthews are working together to manage the situation.

Earlier this month ten cases were linked to a Scunthorpe factory where employees claimed they were told not to wear masks because they are food hazards.

The Karro Food Group pork processing plant, one of the country’s largest food producers, was criticised by employees for its coronavirus measures.

Workers reported a spate of cases over the last week, though the company claimed they were infected through ‘community contact’. It also insisted it was following all government guidelines.

One employee at the factory, who wished to remain anonymous, said: ‘Staff are dropping like flies and being sent home. There’s around ten confirmed cases now.’

Food factories ravaged by Covid outbreaks

  • October 26: Cranswick Country Foods site in Watton, Norfolk
  • October 22: Bernard Matthews turkey plant, Great Witchingham, Norfolk
  • October 6: Karro Food Group pork processing plant in Scunthorpe 
  • September 30: Pilgrim’s Pride food factory in Pool, near Redruth, Cornwall
  • September 29: Bernard Matthews turkey plant, Holton, near Halesworth in Suffolk
  • September 23: Greggs factory in Newcastle 
  • September 11: Aunt Bessie’s Yorkshire pudding factory in Hull
  • September 2: Millers of Speyside in Scottish Highlands
  • August 26: Food Standard’s Authority reveal there are at least 40 active outbreaks at factories in the UK 
  • August 22: Banham Poultry in Attleborough, Norfolk
  • August 21: Greencore in Northampton
  • August 20: Cranswick in Ballymena, Northern Ireland
  • August 18: Bakkavor in Newark
  • August 17: 2 Sisters Food Group in Coupar Angus, Tayside
  • August 17: Fyffes in Coventry, West Midlands
  • August 13: Greencore in Northampton
  • July 12: AS Green and Co, Herefordshire
  • July 3: Walkers, Leicester
  • June 26: Tulip, Tipton  
  • June 24: Kepak Food Group in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales 
  • June 23: Princes, Wisebech
  • June 19: Asda, Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire
  • June 19: Rowan Foods in Wrexham, Wales 
  • June 17: 2 Sisters food factory in Anglesey, North Wales
  • May 15: Cranswick, Barnsley
  • May 11: Moy Park in Dungannon, Northern Ireland
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This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Nigeria may lose $493m paid to procure fighter jets – Senate

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The Senate Committee on Airforce, said on Thursday that Nigeria stood the risk of losing $493m paid to the United States for the purchase of Super Tucano fighter planes.

The panel said the nation’s runway at the moment was not up to the standard and could not carry the fighter jets.

The Federal Government had wired in $493m in 2018 to a US company to tackle insurgency and other security challenges facing the country.

The Vice-Chairman of the Senate Committee on Air Force, Senator Mike Nnachi, raised the alarm while presenting the 2021 budget report of the Air Force before the Senate Committee on Appropriation.

He told the lawmakers that when the Americans came to inspect the Kanji runway, recently, they complained that the facility did not have the capacity to carry the aircraft.

He, therefore, said there was the need to make provision for additional N9bn that would take care of the runway and aircraft or else Nigeria will lose the money and the aircraft.

Nnachi said, “It is a very serious issue, the Airforce personnel are running around. They have gone to the Finance Minister. They have also gone to the Central Bank of Nigeria, and they have gone to meet the Senate President because the money needed was not part of the main budget.

“Nigeria has already paid $493m for the aircraft, and the officials of the American company who came to Nigeria last week said that the Kanji runway is not capable of carrying those fighter jets.

“The company said that Nigeria will forfeit the aircraft and they said about three countries had already been affected with that.”

The Chairman of the Committee on Appropriation, Senator Barau Jibrin, said his committee will look inward to make fund available to address the issue in the 2021 budget.

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UK police design new uniform hijab in hope Muslim women will join

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uk police design new uniform hijab in hope muslim women will join

A police officer who helped design a new hijab because the one provided was uncomfortable and unsafe said she hopes it will inspire other Muslim women to join the force.

Pc Uzma Amireddy, a positive action coordinator, said the hijab given to her by North Yorkshire Police was uncomfortable, did not look good and was potentially unsafe in hostile situations.

She said: ‘If you want to attract people from diverse backgrounds they have to feel and look good in their uniform and something like that certainly will put people off joining.

Pc Uzma Amireddy, pictured right, designed a new hijab to form part of her North Yorkshire Police uniform which she hopes will allow more Muslim women to join the force

Pc Uzma Amireddy, pictured right, designed a new hijab to form part of her North Yorkshire Police uniform which she hopes will allow more Muslim women to join the force

Pc Uzma Amireddy, pictured right, designed a new hijab to form part of her North Yorkshire Police uniform which she hopes will allow more Muslim women to join the force

Pc Amireddy, pictured, is North Yorkshire Police's positive action coordinator

Pc Amireddy, pictured, is North Yorkshire Police's positive action coordinator

Pc Amireddy, pictured, is North Yorkshire Police’s positive action coordinator 

‘That’s why I took it on myself.’

After she took the issue to her chief officer – Pc Arfan Rahouf, who is the force’s operational lead for faith and belief, got involved in the development.

With input from Pc Amireddy, he set about finding a hijab that would be suitable.

They sourced one from a local supplier and suggested some alterations to help make it more suitable for use by officers – for example, the head and neck are detachable, meaning if someone were to grab and pull it, it will not pull around the neck.

Pc Rahouf said: ‘It looks professional, it looks smart, it’s safe, she feels beautiful in in it, she feels comfortable, she feels valued by the organisation because they’ve provided it and it’s just something that represents her faith.’

On Monday, Pc Amireddy wore the hijab on the streets for the first time.

She said: ‘When I went out on the streets of North Yorkshire – and I know it’s only one shift and I don’t know what the future holds – but it went really well and I think people saw past the hijab – which I wanted.

‘Because I don’t want to be in the spotlight, I don’t want to be singled out. I want people to see me as a human being and a person doing the job that they love to do.

Pc Amireddy, pictured, said people in North Yorkshire are able to see past her hijab so it does not make it more difficult for her to do her job

Pc Amireddy, pictured, said people in North Yorkshire are able to see past her hijab so it does not make it more difficult for her to do her job

Pc Amireddy, pictured, said people in North Yorkshire are able to see past her hijab so it does not make it more difficult for her to do her job

‘And they saw me as a police officer on the doorstep, not as somebody from a Muslim background and that’s what I wanted.’

Now the pair are hoping the hijab might be taken up by forces more widely.

Pc Rahouf said: ‘We’ve been invited to have conversations nationally to see if this can be incorporated as a standard hijab with police forces across the country.’

For Pc Amireddy, she believes she has already seen the potential power the hijab could have.

She said: ‘A friend of mine was in the pipeline of joining the police force and when I told her and she’d seen the hijab and she tried it on, she said ‘you know what, I’m really happy with this’.

‘So for me, that was my proudest moment – that I’ve made a Muslim female happy with joining the police force.

‘She doesn’t have to face those obstacles and barriers that I had to.’

North Yorkshire Police commended the two officers, saying they had ‘worked really hard’ to ‘make this important change happen’.

A spokesperson said: ‘It’s really important for North Yorkshire Police to make sure that the uniform for each and every police officer is fit for purpose.

‘Inclusion and diversity is a key agenda for the police service. We need to be more representative of the communities we serve, in order for us to be an inclusive workforce and deliver a better service to all of our communities.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Experts say it’s not illegal to embrace relatives at Christmas but doesn’t mean you should

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experts say its not illegal to embrace relatives at christmas but doesnt mean you should

Just because it is legal to hug relatives at Christmas does not mean you should, Downing Street’s experts have warned.

Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance said they want people to see their families ‘because that is what Christmas is all about’.

But the government’s chief medical officer and chief scientific adviser added they would not encourage Britons to embrace old family members.

Their stern words came as Boris Johnson begged people to get on board with new coronavirus tiers.

He insisted there is an ‘escape’ route for areas in the higher levels – only for Prof Whitty immediately to warn Tier 1 is a vain hope.

Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance said they want people to see their families 'because that is what Christmas is all about'

Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance said they want people to see their families 'because that is what Christmas is all about'

Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance said they want people to see their families ‘because that is what Christmas is all about’

Answering a question from a journalist at the Downing Street press briefing tonight, Prof Whitty said: ‘Would I want someone to see their family? Of course, that’s what Christmas is all about.

‘But would I encourage someone to hug and kiss their relatives? No I would not. It’s not against the law, and that’s the whole point – you can do it within the rules that are there but it does not make sense because you could be carrying the virus.

‘And if you’ve got an elderly relative that would not be the thing you want to do in a period where we’re running up to a point where we actually might be able to older people.

‘So I think people just have to have sense and I think this is very much what I think people will do.

‘The fact that you can do something, this is true across so many other areas of life, doesn’t mean you should.’

‘In answer to your direct question about what I’ll be doing, actually I will be on the wards.’

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Sir Patrick added: ‘To keep numbers down don’t do things that are unnecessary this Christmas, try to make sure you avoid behaviours that would spread the disease.

‘Make sure that if you’re in a house with other households that you’ve got it well ventilated and you take the precautions.

‘Keep distance where you can, it’s the same basic rules we need to apply and I think it’s difficult.

How does government decide what Tiers areas are put into? 

Boris Johnson promised to base Tier allocation on ‘common sense’, and the government’s ‘Winter Plan’ set out a series of metrics to be used. They are:

  • Case detection rates in all age groups;
  • Case detection rates in the over 60s;
  • The rate at which cases are rising or falling;
  • Positivity rate (the number of positive cases detected as a percentage of tests taken); and
  • Pressure on the NHS, including current and projected occupancy.

However, there are no specific numerical trigger points, and the document added that there will be ‘some flexibility to weight these indicators against each other as the context demands’. 

‘For example, hospital capacity in a given area will need to be considered in the light of the capacity in neighbouring areas and the feasibility of moving patients,’ the document said. 

‘Case detection rates will need to be weighted against whether the spread of the virus appears to be localised to particular communities.’ 

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‘It’s not going to be a normal Christmas, but if you want to make those connections with family it has to be done in a way in which you try to make sure you don’t increase the risk of, I think Chris said the risk of hugging elderly relatives is not something to go out and do.

‘It will increase the spread to the vulnerable population.’ Prof Whitty added: ‘It wants to survive to hunt again.’

Elsewhere in the briefing the PM insisted the Tier system will be less ‘intrusive’ than the blanket lockdown that it is intended to replace from December 2.

He stressed there was a mechanism for areas that manage to bring down their infection rates to have curbs eased.

‘Your tier is not your destiny, every area has the means of escape,’ the Prime Minister said.

But Prof Whitty struck a very different tone, suggesting there is little chance of anyone going down to Tier 1 as restrictions are so lax that inevitably cases rise.

The chief medical officer said it was only possible for places that currently have extremely low case rates. He said adjustments to the Tiers would only be ‘primarily’ downwards.

Seizing on the contradiction, Tory MP Mark Harper tweeted: ‘That rather suggests if you’re in Tier 2, it is your destiny – at least until the Spring.’

Under the allocations announced today, just 700,000 people – one per cent of the population – will be subject to the loosest grade of restrictions. Before November 5 there were 29million in the lowest tier.

Meanwhile, around 55million residents will be in the toughest two levels after the blanket national lockdown ends on December 2.

It has sparked a huge backlash, with anger at the lack of firm thresholds for entering and leaving Tiers, and many local MPs in low-infection areas enraged at being lumped together with nearby hotspots.

The government has published a narrative explanation of why each area is going into each tier, but has dismissed calls to use numerical trigger points.

A slew of senior Tories have threatened to rebel in a crunch vote on the plans next week.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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