EVESHAM Vale Growers says it has identified the origin of a coronavirus outbreak to staff that were brought to work on a minibus.

Andrew Bille, managing director of Evesham Vale Growers, has released the statement stressing it was business as usual after the firm previously confirmed 14 of its workers had tested positive for coronavirus.

The managing director said: "Earlier this week, EVG Europe had a small number of cases of Covid-19 confirmed at our tomato packing production facility at Blackminster, near Evesham.

"We have identified the origin, and it is limited to one particular minibus bringing colleagues to work.

"Our other sites - the spring onion facility at Springhill Farm, and those working in fields and greenhouses, are unaffected.

"We are working closely with Public Health England, Worcestershire County Council, and other governmental bodies to ensure we take the appropriate and effective actions to protect our essential workforce.

"The business is confident in the steps it has taken for their safety and well-being, which is paramount.

"Considerate effort and investment in measures to protect us all, have been made at EVG since lockdown began 122 days ago, which is testament to the company being Covid-free until now.

"Business will continue as normal, as we make our contribution to keep the nation fed.

"Stay safe and keep well."

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Staff at the site were tested and those with the 14 positive tests are currently self isolating.

Around 340 key workers are employed to carry out packing work vital to the UK food supply chain and local economy by the firm that was originally founded in 1978.

Dr Adrian Phillips, consultant in communicable disease control with PHE Midlands, said: “We are working closely with the local authority and the management at Evesham Vale Growers Limited to support the health and wellbeing of the workforce and wider public health.

“To support this workforce of around 340 key workers, the company has put in place a range of infection control measures to try to reduce the risk of staff being exposed to COVID-19. Measures include supporting testing on site, promoting social distancing in the indoor packaging area, providing PPE for staff where applicable, encouraging regular handwashing for at least 20 seconds, and promoting the use of face coverings in closed areas.

“As we have seen a global trend of large food producers being subject to outbreaks, as a precautionary measure, the decision was made to test the entire workforce.”

And Dr Kathryn Cobain, director for public health for Worcestershire, added: “We will continue to support the site management, their workers – who form an important part of our local economy, and the local community through this challenging time.

"The food produced on the site is unaffected by the outbreak and remains safe to eat. Anyone who has a fever, persistent dry cough, or loss or change in their sense of taste or smell should call 119 or go online to arrange a test.”