There has been an outbreak of Covid-19 among workers at one of the largest smoked salmon factories in Scotland.
Eight workers have now tested positive for the virus at the Farne Salmon factory in Duns, and health authorities warn they have to “act quickly” to contain the cluster.
NHS Borders stated that close contacts were advised to isolate themselves, and that other contacts reported were followed up and advised accordingly.
Meanwhile, steps are being made to screen additional workers who have served in the same sector as those who have tested positive. An Incident Management Team (IMT) is working to provide advice and assistance to NHS Borders, Public Health Scotland, Scottish Borders Council and Farne Salmon staff.
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Where clusters of cases emerge, we need to find them and act rapidly to avoid further spread, Dr. Tim Patterson, public health director at NHS Borders, said. The IMT is working with the management of Farne Salmon to discuss any appropriate steps to control this cluster.
“Individuals confirmed to be infected and their close contacts in the community have been identified and counseled,” he said.
As a further precaution, further monitoring plans are now being made for other workers who have served in the same area as the positive staff.
According to the firm, Farne Salmon and Trout, based in Duns, is one of the largest smoked salmon operations in Europe – the largest private sector employer in the Borders, with a core workforce of 700.
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“The continued rise in the number of confirmed cases in the Borders is a reminder of how contagious this virus is,” Dr Patterson said.
“It’s more important than ever that everyone continues to obey the rules: you must isolate yourself and book a test immediately if you show any signs of Covid-19. Those you live with must also self-isolate as you wait for your test result. Over the holidays, please be extra vigilant and think carefully about your preparations for Christmas. On Christmas Day, if you can stop meeting other households in the building, please do so.
“Please continue to follow FACTS guidance: face cover; avoid crowded places; clean hands and surfaces regularly; two-meter clearance; and isolate yourself and report for testing immediately if you have any symptoms.”
Earlier this month, restrictions were relaxed in the Scottish Borders, but the number of positive cases caused alarm as it grew rapidly.
Over the weekend, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the implementation of level four laws, saying that after the emergence of a faster-spreading strain of coronavirus, “firm preventative action” was required.