Coronavirus: Factory staff 'working while waiting for test results'

By Cemlyn Davies
BBC Wales political correspondent

  • Published
Rowan Foods
Image caption,
Rowan Foods has been linked to 289 cases

Employees at a food factory in Wrexham linked to a coronavirus outbreak have been working on site while they wait for their test results, BBC Wales has been told.

One worker at Rowan Foods said he worked a ten hour shift between being tested and finding out he had Covid-19.

As of Saturday, the site has been linked to 289 cases.

In a statement Rowan Foods said the virus is "not spreading within our premises".

Meanwhile Public Health Wales has apologised for delays in getting test results to employees.

Workers at Rowan Foods have previously told the BBC they did not feel safe at the factory and it was "impossible" to keep to a social distance on site.

'Really unsafe'

An employee who tested positive for the virus told the BBC's Politics Wales programme that the company had told workers to "come into work until you've got your test results".

"I think it's really unsafe because you don't know. They may have [Covid-19] and they may be spreading it without knowledge."

He added that the company "have been putting production first over the wellbeing of staff".

Many workers were reluctant to take time off, he said, as they would only be legally entitled to £94 a week in statutory sick pay.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
One worker tested on 22 June was still waiting for a result on 3 July, it was claimed

The partner of another employee who was tested on 22 June claimed he was still waiting for his result on 3 July and was continuing to work in the meantime.

She said the delay was "making us nervous", especially as she has underlying illnesses.

"We don't know if he's got it or not... I don't know if he's going to bring it to the house."

She also claimed that workers were getting abuse from the local community.

"It's not the workers' fault. They have to fear going into work. It's disgusting," she said.

The company, in response to previous claims it was impossible to keep a social distance at the site, has said measures were put in place in March to protect workers.

Virus 'not spreading within our premises'

Rowan Foods, following the latest claims, said its "primary concern throughout the pandemic has been the health and welfare of our staff and their families".

It added that the virus "is not spreading within our premises" and "no one who has symptoms is allowed on to site".

"Had our site been responsible for the outbreak and putting our staff at risk, we would have closed," the company said.

"Instead we are doing the right thing by our employees".

The company added that "from 1 June, no one will be financially disadvantaged by doing the responsible thing and isolating where required".

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Public Health Wales apologised for the speed of test results

Public Health Wales said the organisation was aware that some employees had experienced delays in getting their test results "and we apologise for this".

"Those individuals who have tested positive, even if they have not yet received their results, will have been contacted by contact tracers as part of the Test, Trace, Protect process.

"Colleagues at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board will be working over the next 48 hours to contact all individuals at Rowan Foods who have not yet received their results."

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