Major pork site closes for two weeks after Covid outbreak

One of Scotland's largest pig sites has temporarily shut down after the discovery
One of Scotland's largest pig sites has temporarily shut down after the discovery

A pork processing site in Scotland has been forced to temporarily close for two weeks after a Covid-19 outbreak was discovered among its workforce.

There has so far been 19 confirmed cases at the Quality Pork Processors' factory in Angus according to NHS Tayside.

The Brechin-based site processes around 6,000 pigs per week for UK and international markets.

It closed over the weekend but was officially announced by the QPP Board on Monday (25 January).

A statement by the pork processor said it was now working with Scottish government and farmers to 'help manage the situation'.

"The decision has been made as a result of the impact of Covid-19 on our workforce and the high level of absenteeism at the site which has made maintaining safe operations extremely difficult.

"All employees are now being treated as close contacts of a number of team members who have received positive test results during the past week," the statement said.

"All affected colleagues are being fully supported to self-isolate in line with government guidelines, and we are working closely with public health authorities, Scottish government and farmers to help manage the situation."

Andy McGowan, of Scottish Pig Producers, said the co-operative was working with farmers to source additional accommodation for the pigs, and to ensure animal welfare standards were not compromised.

"The Brechin facility is key for the longer sustainability of the Scottish pig industry and to ensure livestock does not have to travel long distances," he added.

"We will work with the QPP Board in planning for the reopening of the facility as soon as possible to limit the impact on animal welfare for our farmers."

It comes after dairy giant Muller also confirmed an outbreak of coronavirus at its Somerset milk plant.

The company said 47 of its workers had tested positive for Covid at its Bridgwater factory, and one worker had died.

Around a third of its workforce are now self-isolating and production has since been reduced.

The government said on Monday that food and farming businesses with over 50 employees can now receive rapid asymptomatic workplace testing.

The lateral flow device (LFD) Covid-19 test kits will be available until 31 March 2021, Defra explained.