A spike in coronavirus cases in Swindon is being driven by an outbreak at an Iceland food distribution centre, local leaders have said.
Swindon Borough Council health chiefs said that mobile testing teams had been called in after the outbreak at XPO Logistics where 64 workers have so far tested positive, adding that many of the new cases being picked up were asymptomatic.
The latest data from Public Health England (PHE) on Monday showed the rate of new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people in the town surged from 19.8 to 48.6 in the seven days to July 31 – the largest rise in England over that period. It also showed there were 108 new cases during the same period, up from 44 the previous week.
But the council’s cabinet member for adults and health Brian Ford said that the majority could be attributed to an outbreak at a warehouse run by XPO Logistics, which handles food and distributes to supermarkets across the region.
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He added: ‘The cases are rising through one specific incident with a firm called XPO, they have a workforce of approximately 700 and we have mobile testing teams in there.
‘The rising cases is because we are picking up with that testing a lot of asymptomatic cases, normally they would not be found.
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‘Whilst we have a couple of other tiny little outbreaks, ones and twos, this is the main one.’
The council said that the coronavirus outbreak was at XPO’s Penzance Drive distribution centre.
The mobile testing unit has been examining staff since last Wednesday, July 29, and had completed 457 by Friday.
A spokesman for the contractor said last week: ‘Protecting our employees is our number one priority.
‘We’re working closely with the local authorities and adhering to all local and Public Health England guidance to ensure the appropriate health and safety measures are in place.’
Mr Ford confirmed that the company is fully cooperating with PHE and local public health teams and said it is hoped the outbreak will be over in a week.
He added: ‘In fairness, the company is doing everything it is being asked to do.
‘We would hope the figures all start to decrease as the week goes on.’
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