Military personnel were dispatched to a Coupar Angus chicken factory to help tackle a third coronavirus outbreak.
Health chiefs asked the army to attend at the 2 Sisters plant to support a mass testing operation.
NHS Tayside said there has been a “small but sustained increase” in the number of positive cases at the George Street abattoir, which employs around 1,000 people.
Since the beginning of the month, there have been 25 positive cases linked to the factory. The Courier understands that more than 100 staff have been told to stay home.
Measures that were put in place to prevent infection spread, including outdoor testing that began last month, are now being reviewed.
The factory was first hit by a coronavirus outbreak in August, when the premises was shut down for a fortnight while all staff were sent home to self-isolate.
New positive cases were detected again just after Christmas. The small number of confirmed infections rose dramatically during the first weeks of January.
The Army said it was asked by NHS National Services Scotland to offer assistance to the company’s ongoing testing operation. The Courier understands there were no concerns about testing on site, but advice was given about a technical issue concerning data flow.
Dr Emma Fletcher, chair of the multi-agency Incident Management Team (IMT) which met to discuss the situation on Wednesday morning, said: “An IMT was called in response to a small but sustained increase in the number of cases of Covid-19 associated with the 2 Sisters factory.
“The IMT is working closely with 2 Sisters to put in place preventative measures to limit further transmission of the virus amongst factory workers. This includes supporting them to review existing infection prevention processes and procedures in place.”
She said: “The factory is working closely with NHS Tayside’s Public Health team and Food Standards Scotland to ensure all arrangements for contact tracing and self-isolation are in place.
“Staff who are self-isolating are being given appropriate advice and additional support from their relevant local authority if needed.”
Dr Fletcher added: “The IMT is reassured that the factory can remain open at this time.”
Deputy First Minister and local SNP MSP John Swinney said: “News of a further outbreak at 2 Sisters is a matter of significant concern, and will understandably worry the local community.
“It is now vital that all necessary steps are taken to ensure that this cluster of cases does not spread.”
A British Army spokeswoman said: “Some military personnel attended the 2 Sisters factory at the request of NHS National Services Scotland, in order to provide assistance and assurance to the asymptomatic testing team on site.
“There are no plans to have military personnel regularly based at the factory.”
A Perth and Kinross Council spokesman added: “We will work with public health to support staff at 2 Sisters if required.”
The 2 Sisters Food Group declined to comment.
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