A “strong case” could be made for temporarily shutting down the 2 Sisters factory according to a local politician, after positive Covid-19 cases at the Coupar Angus site soared to 30.
The Perthshire processing plant has been at the centre of a dramatic rise in confirmed coronavirus cases, more than quadrupling from seven in less than a week.
This is the second major outbreak at the 2 Sisters plant in Coupar Angus. The factory was forced to close its doors after four confirmed cases in August last year.
During that outbreak more than 200 people tested positive for the virus and the site was shut down for a fortnight.
With cases now more than six times higher than they were in August, SNP MP Pete Wishart said there was a “strong case” for temporarily shutting the site.
The Perthshire politician said: “I am deeply concerned to hear about the serious and developing situation at the 2 Sisters chicken factory in Coupar Angus.
“It is imperative that we get to the bottom of how this has happened once again in the same workplace.
“I would imagine that there is a strong case for the factory to be temporarily closed, given the numbers are higher than the initial outbreak previously, but that will be a decision for the Incident Management Team (IMT) and 2 Sisters to make.”
Mr Wishart urged workers to keep an eye on their own health and to seek a test and isolate if they developed symptoms.
Perthshire North MSP and deputy first minister John Swinney said: “It is very concerning that the number of cases related to the outbreak at 2 Sisters have continued to rise. It is important that the proper public health protocols are followed to ensure there is no further spread of the virus.”
NHS Tayside confirmed on Wednesday that positive cases at the plant had risen to 30 and an IMT had once again been set up to deal with the outbreak.
The health board said that the factory, which employs over 1,000, remained open for the time being.
Dr Emma Fletcher, director of public health at NHS Tayside, said: “Thirty cases of Covid-19 connected to the 2 Sisters food processing plant have now been identified.
“The factory is working closely with NHS Tayside’s public health team and Food Standards Scotland and all arrangements for contact tracing and self-isolation are in place.
“Staff are being given appropriate advice and additional support from their relevant local authority if needed.
“The multi-agency IMT continues to keep the situation under close review and the factory remains open.”
Concerns about the living conditions of staff members were raised during the last outbreak when The Courier revealed around 30 employees were crammed into a 10 bedroom guesthouse with no social distancing.
When contacted by The Courier, 2 Sisters said it did not have anything to add to NHS Tayside’s statement.