Coronavirus: 73 crop pickers contract virus on farm

Dozens of vegetable pickers have tested positive for coronavirus on the Herefordshire farm (Photo: STR/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)
Dozens of vegetable pickers have tested positive for coronavirus on the Herefordshire farm (Photo: STR/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

A Herefordshire farm has been forced to go into lockdown following a Covid-19 outbreak which has infected at least 73 crop pickers and packers.

Dozens of farm workers at AS Green & Co, based in Mathon near Malvern, have tested positive for the virus and more are awaiting results.

Over 200 workers have been told to self-isolate in mobile homes situated on the farm premises.

Herefordshire Council, which is supplying food and essential items to the key workers, believes the outbreak is 'contained'.



It added that the workers were being treated as 'one extended bubble' and were staying within household groups.

A spokesperson for AS Green & Co said the welfare of its 'hard-working key workers' was its 'priority'.



"We contacted PHE and we are working closely with them and public health at Herefordshire Council to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"As a precautionary measure we have arranged for testing of additional key workers including management team members and visitors connected with A S Green, and can confirm all results to date outside of our site have been returned with negative results."

AS Green & Co, a family-run business, supplies major UK retailers. It specialises in growing broccoli, broad beans and runner beans.

Public Health England (PHE) said a range of Covid-19 measures had been introduced on the farm, including on-site testing, social distancing and regular hand-washing.

Katie Spence, PHE Midlands health protection director, said it was 'expected' to still witness cases in the community during the current phase of the pandemic.

"In line with NHS guidance, affected individuals were asked to self-isolate for seven days, with their households and close contacts asked to isolate for 14 days," she said.

"As we have seen a global trend of large food producers being subject to outbreaks, as a precautionary measure, the decision was made to test the entire workforce."



The government has issued Covid-19 guidelines on working safely in the agricultural industry.

It comes as a number of meat plants confirmed recent outbreaks of Covid-19, including 2 Sisters's Anglesey chicken site and Tulip's West Midlands' pork plant.