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Coronavirus: Union's mass testing demand as Moy Park workers test positive

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Public health officials should place a mobile testing unit on site at a Moy Park factory where a Covid-19 cluster has been confirmed to safeguard employees, a union has said

Public health officials should place a mobile testing unit on site at a Moy Park factory where a Covid-19 cluster has been confirmed to safeguard employees, a union has said

Public health officials should place a mobile testing unit on site at a Moy Park factory where a Covid-19 cluster has been confirmed to safeguard employees, a union has said

Public health officials should place a mobile testing unit on site at a Moy Park factory where a Covid-19 cluster has been confirmed to safeguard employees, a union has said.

Unite made the plea after food giant Moy Park confirmed that a "very small number" of employees had tested positive for the virus at its plant in Ballymena.

It is understood that fewer than 1% have been affected out of the 1,400 employed at the plant, including agency staff.

The company has said it was engaging with the Public Health Agency (PHA) and other government agencies by following advice and protocols.

It said: "Staff safety is our number one priority and we continue to strictly follow all safeguarding procedures across our sites, such as enhanced cleaning and hygiene regimes, thermal temperature scanning, Perspex screens, additional PPE and social distancing measures."

Health Minister Robin Swann has also confirmed the body is working with the food giant.

The PHA defines a cluster as two or more people having coronavirus in a setting such as a workplace.

Yesterday it repeated its position that it would not divulge specific details about cluster outbreaks. There have been 16 clusters here since the end of May.

Sean McKeever, from Unite, which is not the Ballymena's site recognised trade union but does have members there, said the PHA should implement testing of Moy Park employees for a 14-day period. "We cover the rest of the Moy Park sites and my concern would be the health and safety of all workers on that site," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"I think that every worker should be tested on site over the next 14 days to make sure it is eradicated."

Moy Park has said that it is facilitating testing employees and their households at local test centres.

Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw, a member of health committee, said it highlighted the need for greater preventative measures for the food manufacturing sector, adding Stormont must show "more forthright action".

"We have seen instances elsewhere in the UK and Ireland of tens of cases being linked to individual meat factories, and literally thousands of confirmed cases were linked to a single plant in Gutersloh in Germany," she said.

"It is completely obvious that meat factories represent a serious risk.

"This outbreak suggests that not enough has been done by the relevant ministers to ensure staff safely in meat factories."

Belfast Telegraph