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Positive people Coronavirus: Herefordshire farm outbreak sparks hygiene complaints


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Positive people Coronavirus: Herefordshire farm outbreak sparks hygiene complaints

Image copyright Johnson/Burridge Image caption Leah Johnson and Brandon Burridge finished working at the coronavirus-hit farm on 2 July and claimed hygiene at the site was questionable Vegetable pickers at a farm where 74 people tested positive for Covid-19 said they had hygiene concerns about the site.Two workers said they had to share one toilet…

Positive people Coronavirus: Herefordshire farm outbreak sparks hygiene complaints

Positive people

positive people Leah Johnson and Brandon Burridge

Image copyright
Johnson/Burridge

Image caption

Leah Johnson and Brandon Burridge finished working at the coronavirus-hit farm on 2 July and claimed hygiene at the site was questionable

Vegetable pickers at a farm where 74 people tested positive for Covid-19 said they had hygiene concerns about the site.

Two workers said they had to share one toilet with up to 60 others at A S Green and Co in Herefordshire, which went into lockdown after the tests.

The couple are self-isolating at home in addition to 200 or so workers said to be in quarantine at the site’s live-in accommodation.

The farm has been asked for comment.

Later, West Mercia Police said that three farm workers, including one who had tested positive for Covid-19, had left the site.

Dr Helen Carter, from Public Health England, said: “We are aware that three individuals have left the farm against our guidance and advice and we are working with the West Mercia Police force to make sure they are safe and well.”

Asked if they had been traced, Dr Carter said “at the moment, police are trying to find their location”.

Responding to concerns about workers’ well-being, a spokesperson for public health in the county said the owners of the farm, which supplies national supermarket chains, were doing “their very best in this difficult situation”.

Brandon Burridge and Leah Johnson, a couple from Malvern, Worcestershire, signed up to work on the farm after seeing its Pick for Britain adverts in the local press.

Their last day of work was 2 July and they said the first they had heard of the outbreak had been in the media.

They said no-one from the farm had been in touch over the outbreak, and claimed they had been blocked from a company WhatsApp group after asking questions.

They said they were now self-isolating in their homes and awaiting the result of their own tests, which they say they organised themselves.

Image caption

Workers are self-isolating at this farm in Herefordshire

Ms Johnson, 21, said during an induction process about 15 people had been sitting on shared benches with no mention of keeping 2m (6ft) apart.

“There was nothing about hand sanitiser, we weren’t given any. We were not allowed to wear gloves,” she said.

“It seemed strange to us, but we thought because it was an outdoor job, the risk of coronavirus would be low.

“But we hadn’t considered the shared facilities.

“People were saying ‘there is only one toilet’ – that is ridiculous – and it got quite gross quite quickly, and we were told [by other team members] to avoid it all costs.

“There was one bit of hand sanitiser in the toilet.”

Mr Burridge, 22, said: “I tried to ring them to ask why we hadn’t been informed [of the outbreak] as I thought it was their duty to say so.

“But we were told that our usual contacts weren’t available. The woman on the phone offered to pass on the message, but we didn’t get a response. So I emailed them but I still haven’t had a response.

“And we’ve been blocked from the team Whatsapp group.”

Workers at the farm, which employs a mix of seasonal workers from the UK and abroad, are being supported by public health staff, who are providing food and other provisions, along with translators.

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Director of Public Health for Herefordshire, Karen Wright, confirmed the 74 cases at the farm.

She said: “Our focus remains the health and well-being of residents while we work to contain and control the spread of Covid-19.

“We continue to support the farm management, their workers – who form an important part of our local economy – and the local community through this challenging time.”

Positive people What do I need to know about the coronavirus?

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