No fears of 'second wave' of Covid-19 cases among Greencore sandwich makers, says Northamptonshire's Public Health chief

"Testing has been much more thorough than from most employers, so we're confident this will be smooth sailing"

By Kevin Nicholls
Tuesday, 8th September 2020, 3:25 pm

Public Health chiefs confirmed Northampton's Greencore factory is fully back up and running again and they are confident of no "second wave" of Covid-19 cases.

The M&S sandwich-maker was shut down and all its 2,100 workers sent home following an outbreak of coronavirus cases last month.

But Northamptonshire Public Health Director, Lucy Wightman, today revealed: "All of the affected staff are now out of their self-isolation period and so Greencore is back up and running.

"We are remaining in close contact with the company as are Public Health England to make sure there are no secondary waves.

"Obviously they have had much more thorough testing there than from most employers so we're confident that this will be smooth sailing for them."

Northampton was highlighted as an "area of concern" on a PHE watchlist and extra guidance issued to residents following 79 positive Covid-19 tests among workers during July and into August.

That was later upgraded to an "area of intervention" by Health Secretary Matt Hancock on August 21 who ordered the Moulton Park factory to shut down following a private testing programme introduced by the company which revealed a further 250 cases.

The Greencore factory in Moulton Park is fully back up and running after its Covid-19 outbreak

Greencore began a phased reopening three days later using unaffected staff or those who had already completed periods of self-isolation.

PHE reduced Northampton to an "are of enhanced support" last Friday as overall numbers of new tests in the town have fallen to a weekly average of around 20 per 100,000 of the population — although extra guidance to limit contact with other households, maintain social distancing and avoid using public transport or car sharing wherever possible.

Numbers of deaths related to Covid-19 have also slowed although Public Health officials believe that is down to more working age people becoming infected instead of elderly and vulnerable as was the case back in March and April.

Northamptonshire has seen 682 victims die following positive Covid-19 tests in the county's two main hospitals and care homes — although only three of those have occurred since the beginning of August.

Northamptonshire's Public Health Director Lucy Wightman

Yet officials still fear more big increases in the number of cases during the winter.

England's Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, said last night the public should start taking the pandemic “very seriously again” or face a “bumpy ride over the next few months”.

He described the rise in cases to nearly 3,000 per day nationally — mostly among those aged 17 to 21 — as “a signal we have got to change this now”.

He added: "People have relaxed too much. Now is the time for us to re-engage and realise that this is a continuing threat to us.”