A Perth factory which has been a key player in the global fight against coronavirus has been hit by its own outbreak.
Several staff have tested positive for Covid-19 at the Thermo Fisher Scientific base in the city’s Inveralmond area.
Since October, the life sciences factory has been manufacturing crucial components for Covid-19 testing kits. It makes about eight million tubes used for test samples each week.
They ensure samples collected from nose swabs maintains their viability while they are sent to laboratories for testing.
Now bosses have confirmed a cluster of Covid-19 cases amongst employees. The outbreak has been described as “concerning” by Deputy First Minister John Swinney.
A spokeswoman for the firm said: “At Thermo Fisher Scientific, the safety, health and wellbeing of our colleagues is our primary concern.
“With the increase in incidence of Covid-19 across Scotland, six positive cases have been identified at our site in Perth and employees that came into contact with these individuals are following self-isolation guidelines.
“A wide range of control measures are in place across the site, based on risk assessment, and we continue to regularly review our protocols to maintain a Covid safe environment.”
She added: “Beyond this incident – which the company takes extremely seriously – Thermo Fisher has been at the center of the global response to COVID-19.
“We are working with government agencies and researchers to ensure priority access to instruments, consumables, safety supplies and other products to address the outbreak.”
The US-based company last year announced an expansion of the Auld Bond Road plant as part of a $140 million (approximately £100m) investment, creating 200 jobs.
The firm said it was growing its laboratory plastics disposables production to meet global demand for Covid-19 testing.
Mr Swinney, who is SNP MSP for North Perthshire, said: “News of this outbreak is clearly concerning, and my thoughts are with those affected.
“Following these initial cases, it is crucial that all necessary public health guidelines are followed so as to minimise any further spread.”
The outbreak comes as health chiefs monitor an ongoing cluster at the 2 Sisters chicken factory in Coupar Angus. So far, nearly 60 staff there have tested positive.
NHS Tayside is aware of the cases at Thermo Fisher, but has not set up an Incident Management Team.
SNP councillor Eric Drysdale, who chairs the Perth and Kinross Integration Joint Board and sits on the NHS Tayside board, said: “Every positive case is a concern and nowhere where people gather can be made totally safe from this highly infectious virus.
“Unless there is an essential reason to leave our homes, it is everyone’s public duty is to stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.”
Mr Drysdale added: “I am sure the vast majority of our citizens will agree that a few weeks of virtual confinement in our homes is a small price to pay for getting to grips with this pandemic until the vaccine can be rolled out.”