A third coronavirus outbreak at a Perthshire chicken factory appears to have been tamed, with health chiefs reporting an “expected” rise in positive cases.
Members of the military were called to the 2 Sisters plant in Coupar Angus last week, after a “small but sustained increase” in infections amongst staff.
An Incident Management Team (IMT) set up to monitor the cluster has now confirmed that the number of cases linked to the George Street abattoir has nearly doubled in seven days, from 25 to 49.
However, those affected were already identified as close contacts and were in isolation.
It is understood that more than 100 staff were told to stay home after a mass testing operation in the grounds of the factory at the beginning of last week.
It is the third major outbreak at the site since last summer.
During the first incident, the factory was ordered to close for two weeks and all 1,000 staff were told to quarantine.
This time, health bosses have insisted there is no reason to halt production.
Situation to be kept under close review
Dr Emma Fletcher, who chairs the multi-agency IMT said: “The number of cases of Covid-19 associated with the 2 Sisters factory has now risen to 49.
“This is an expected increase made up of people who had previously been identified as close contacts and advised to self-isolate.
“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.
“The IMT is reassured that the factory can remain open at this time.
“There are currently no plans for the IMT to meet again but Public Health will keep the situation under close review and reconvene if necessary.”
Local SNP MP Pete Wishart said he was pleased with progress made by the IMT.
“This is obviously further worry for the community in Coupar Angus and I would urge everyone who has links to the factory, to continue to remain extra vigilant,” he said.
“Whilst we know that food processing facilities are at a higher risk, 2 Sisters must learn from this further outbreak.
“They owe it to their employees and the wider public to ensure that they are doing everything possible to minimise the risk of this happening yet again.”
Perth and Kinross has seen a general rise in cases recently and is – according to statistics released on Tuesday – the sixth highest local authority area for weekly rates per 100,000.
The 2 Sisters Food Group did not respond to requests for comment.