Welsh Government holds press conference on North Wales Covid-19 outbreak

The Welsh Government is holding a press conference about the coronavirus outbreak in North Wales. It comes after 175 workers tested positive for Covid-19 at the 2 Sisters food factory in Llangefni, on Anglesey. Staff are self-isolating while the factory is closed for two weeks. The Welsh Government held two meetings yesterday over the outbreak with discussions set to include if a local lockdown is needed to stop the virus spreading. Health minister Vaughan Gething will be providing an update at today’s daily coronavirus briefing. We’ll bring you all the latest from the briefing which starts at 12.30pm. For the latest news please visit North Wales Live Get all the big headlines, pictures, analysis, opinion and video on the stories that matter to you. If you have some information you can contact us by following our Twitter feed @northwaleslive – the official North Wales Live account – real news in real time. Or like facebook.com/northwaleslive/ – your must-see news, features, videos and pictures throughout the day from the North Wales Live. Don’t forget you can also keep up to date with the latest via the free North Wales Live app. Download it for Apple devices ​here​ and Android devices ​here​.14:24KEY EVENTWrexham sees spike in number of coronavirus cases after outbreak at food plantA further five people have died after testing positive for coronavirus in Wales, bringing the total number to 1,483. Public Health Wales today recorded 98 new known cases overall in Wales, meaning 15,295 people have now tested positive for the disease although the actual number is likely to be much higher. In the last 24 hours, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board recorded the highest number of new cases at 55, and three out of the five new deaths.The second highest total number of cases was 16, recorded in Cwm Taf Morgannwg.It brings the total number of cumulative cases in the North Wales health board area to 3,420, with BCUHB also having the highest death toll at 344.Since the outbreak began, 356 people have now tested positive in Anglesey, 641 in Conwy, 707 in Denbighshire, 515 in Flintshire, 522 in Gwynedd and 679 in Wrexham. Wrexham saw the highest increase with 25 new cases recorded overnight, followed by 11 in Conwy and seven on Anglesey.Rowan Foods. Photo by Ian Cooper (Image: Ian Cooper/North Wales Live)14:19Sarah HodgsonHuge Covid-19 infection survey set to be rolled out in WalesA Covid-19 infection survey is being extended to include Wales for the first time after a successful launch of the study in England.So far, more than 100,000 swab tests have been carried out over the duration of the study in England, with over 3,000 antibody tests and weekly publication of the latest analysis of results. Read more.ONS map pinpoints where deaths from Covid-19 have happened (Image: ONS)13:01Sarah HodgsonHealth minister to meet with unionsVaughan Gething says they will meet with unions to try and understand how employees feel about the outbreak at 2 Sisters in Llangefni, and what was happening in the factory. He also said they want to understand about their social lives too.13:00Sarah Hodgson’We would not have been able to cope’ without local tracing teamsMr Gething says that if people do not follow social distancing rules it puts more people at risk. He says this is key due to many of the workers at food factories living in houses of multiple occupancies.He says without local tracing teams, they “would not have been able to cope”. He says he is very proud of the response. 12:57Sarah HodgsonWill rules now be changed in Wales?Vaughan Gething says he has not seen the scientific evidence that has led to Boris Johnson to relax restrictions in England. He says that it is important Wales does not relax restrictions too soon as it could cause more harm. He said that they follow what England is doing with interest due to the border and the social and economic impacts.The health minister said it is not ideal to have different rules, but his priority is keeping Wales safe. 12:55Sarah HodgsonWhat changes have been made in England?Pubs, hairdressers and restaurants in England will get the green-light to open in July as Boris Johnson slashed the 2 metre social distancing rule.The Prime Minister announced the guidance will be changed following weeks of speculation.Where it’s not possible for people to stay two metres apart, people will be asked to distance by “one metre plus”.The “plus” refers to mitigation measures like face coverings or plastic screens at shop tills.Hotels, restaurants, pubs, cinemas and hairdressers can reopen from July 4. providing they are “Covid-secure” and theatres and concert halls can open but cannot stage live performances But nightclubs, indoor gyms and beauty salons must remain closed “for now”, Mr Johnson said.12:51Sarah HodgsonHow will we know if the outbreak has spread to community?Mr Gething says they will know if the virus has spread to the community from the factories in Wrexham and Llangefni.He says they will look at the results of track and trace, coronavirus testing elsewhere and says part of the marker will be GP admissions, ambulance call-outs, hospital admissions and more.The health minister says he expects to publish more information next week.Army run Covid testing site in Holyhead (Image: Glyn Haynes)12:46Sarah HodgsonWill the 2m rule be changed?Mr Gething says they do not have to wait to change rules until the next review. He says they have not seen the evidence that underpins any potential changes to the 2m rule in England. He says they will continue to take a “deliberately cautious” approach and will not put people at risk.The minister says they will keep an eye on what happens in England.He says he understands some businesses are anxious and want to see the economy restarted. Mr Gething says they will need to look at evidence to see what is the right thing to do for Wales.The minister said he was not aware of changes made in England, where Boris Johnson has announced a “1m plus rule” and announced pubs and hairdressers can reopen in 10 days.12:41Sarah HodgsonPlan set to be published later this weekMr Gething said:I will provide a wider plan and guidance for the sector, working with Public Health Wales and other agencies, including the Food Standards Agency and the Health and Safety Executive. I expect to publish this plan and guidance this week.I want to repeat, these are outbreaks centred on the plants themselves and at present, there is no wider community transmission. But we are keeping these outbreaks under very close observation and management.The outbreaks have reinforced the importance and reason for all of us to follow the social distancing guidance, continue good basic hand hygiene, get a test and self-isolate if you have symptoms. We will continue to work together to keep Wales safe – this is our number one priority.12:40Sarah HodgsonHealth minister has met with unionsMr Gething says yesterday he met with unions representing the workforce at the two North Wales plants and agreed a set of wider actions, focusing on workforce wellbeing. A meeting will be held later this week with the sector, unions and employers.12:39Sarah HodgsonMeetings held in North WalesMr Gething says there are daily outbreak control meetings in North Wales to manage both the Anglesey and Wrexham outbreaks. We are continuing to test people working in all the plants and trace all those people they have been in close contact with.Incident management meetings are taking place in respect of the Merthyr Tydfil cases.12:39Sarah HodgsonWhat the law in Wales saysThe law in Wales says workplaces must take all reasonable measures to comply with the 2m physical distancing duty to protect people working and visiting premises from coronavirus. Compliance with this has been generally good and there are some very good examples around Wales, Mr Gething says.However, we also know in the meat processing sector, operating margins can be very tight, many people are employed on fairly low pay and levels of statutory sick pay mean many people feel they have no choice but to carry on working when they are ill. Coronavirus thrives in cold, damp and noisy environments where people are in close contact with each other. It survives for longer indoors and particularly on smooth surfaces for up to three days. But there is no evidence that coronavirus survives on food.12:38Sarah HodgsonOutbreaks at food processing plants globallyOutbreaks in meat and food processing plants have been a feature of the coronavirus pandemic around the world, Mr Gething said. We have seen largescale outbreaks affecting thousands of people in the US, Canada and Germany, he adds.The outbreak in Germany has affected more than 1,300 employees of a meatpacking plant and has seen lockdown restrictions being re-imposed in the local area for a week.There are currently five outbreaks in meat processing plants in England.12:37Sarah HodgsonMore than 30 cases at South Wales factoryIn South Wales, 34 cases have been confirmed at Kepak, Merthyr Tydfil, since April 25. There have been eight cases since the start of June – six people are currently off sick with coronavirus. This incident is under investigation. 12:37KEY EVENTRowan Foods outbreak in Wrexham – 70 test positiveThe second outbreak is centred on the Rowan Foods plant in Wrexham.As of last night, there were 70 confirmed cases.1,000 tests have been carried out and we are waiting for the results.At the moment, the factory remains operational.12:36KEY EVENT2 Sisters outbreak: Family members of workers infectedThe first outbreak is centred on the 2 Sisters plant in Llangefni, in Anglesey. As of last night, there were 175 confirmed cases and the majority are staff members at the plant. Some are household contacts, Mr Gething says.More than 400 tests have been carried out over the last five days as part of the work to test the workforce at the plant.The factory has been closed.2 Sisters site at Llangefni (Image: Daily Post Wales)12:36Sarah HodgsonWe must take coronavirus ‘very seriously’, says health ministerThe outbreaks reinforce the need for all of us to continue to take coronavirus very seriously – it has not gone away, the health minister says. “There is no room for complacency.”He goes on to remind people of the symptoms which are a raised temperature, a new and persistent cough and a loss of taste or smell.If you have any of these symptoms, you must stay at home and do not go to work.You can book a coronavirus test at one of the drive-through testing centres or request a home testing kit online. (Image: Rob Browne)12:34Sarah HodgsonCoronavirus cases falling across Wales otherwiseMr Gething says he wants to assure the public that cases of coronavirus are generally falling across Wales – there have seen fewer than 100 cases each day in the first few weeks of June. There has been an increase over the weekend, which is probably related to these outbreaks, he said.12:34Sarah HodgsonAll cases directly linked to workers at factoriesAll cases are directly linked to people working in these factories, Mr Gething says.The cases have been identified through the Test, Trace, Protect system, which shows “it is working properly”.The health minister says he is “very grateful to our TTP teams across the country who are working to keep Wales safe.”12:33Sarah HodgsonTwo confirmed outbreaks in North WalesMr Gething says: We have two confirmed coronavirus outbreaks, centred on two meat and food processing plants – one on Anglesey and one in Wrexham. In addition, there is a small cluster of cases at a meat processing plant in Merthyr Tydfil.Before I go into further details about the two confirmed outbreaks, I want to restate, that at the moment, there is no evidence of wider community transmission beyond these plants.There have been outbreaks of coronavirus at two North Wales factories12:31Sarah HodgsonBriefing about to startWe are just waiting for the briefing to start. It should be underway any time now.12:20Sarah HodgsonDiscussions held about a local lockdownDiscussions have been taking place between the Welsh Government, Anglesey Council, and other local players over what needs to be done to protect the virus from spreading.First Minister Mark Drakeford said yesterday that the outbreak at 2 Sisters is in a “closed setting” and it was hoped there would not be significant “seepage” into the community.He said that track and trace was working well, and that two meetings were being held about the issue yesterday.It is understood that part of those discussions were if a local lockdown on Anglesey was needed. But Mr Drakeford did say they would only take such action if it was needed to protect public health.Despite tourism leaders across Wales urging ministers to lift restrictions on the industry, which contributes around £300m a year to the local economy, concerns have also been raised locally over any resulting influx to the island.12:16Sarah Hodgson’We all need to be vigilant’Public Health Wales continues to work in partnership with the 2 Sisters, Anglesey and Gwynedd Councils, the Health and Safety Executive, the Food Standards Agency, and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board to manage the incident. Dr Christopher Johnson, Consultant in Health Protection at Public Health Wales said: We have recorded an increase of 17 confirmed positive cases of coronavirus, bringing the total cases in the outbreak to 175. Since we commenced targeted testing last Thursday, over 400 members of staff have provided samples. The deployment of rapid test and trace facilities has helped identify this situation, and we will continue to keep control measures in place to bring the outbreak to a rapid conclusion.Incidents like this are a reminder that coronavirus is still circulating, sometimes invisibly, and that we all need to be vigilant. We all have a part to play in preventing the spread of coronavirus by sticking to social distancing guidelines – that’s staying two metres away from others – and washing hands regularly.Employees who test positive are being contacted through the Test, Trace and Protect process and provided with additional advice for themselves, household and other contacts.I wish to remind everyone that if you or a member of your household develop symptoms of cough, fever or change in sense of taste or smell, you must book a test for COVID-19 you should do so promptly to help control the spread of infection.2 Sisters abattoir in Llangefni (Image: Daily Post Wales)12:14Sarah HodgsonMore than 400 tested at 2 SistersA total of 17 new cases were identified at the 2 Sisters Food Group poultry processing plant in Llangefni yesterday – bringing the total to 175.Public Health Wales says the increase follows a rapid screening exercise over the weekend. More than 400 samples have so far been, during the rapid screening phase. This increase is as anticipated when a focused track and trace programme is implemented, and does not mean that the spread of infection is increasing, says Public Health Wales. Employees and contractors from the processing plant have been asked to self-isolate for 14 days to help limit the further spread of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), following confirmation of multiple cases in the workforce.12:10Sarah HodgsonCovid-19 hit 2 Sisters abattoir must stay shut until ‘independent review’ rules its safe to reopenYnys Môn MP Viriginia Crobsie insists the 2 Sisters chicken plant on Llangefni must remain closed until a full health and safety audit has been carried out. The Anglesey factory was shutdown for two weeks last Thursday as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases at the plant mountedAs of Monday 175 workers tested positive for the virus – with all staff self-isolating during the two week closure..12:08Sarah HodgsonCoronavirus briefing to focus on North WalesHealth minister Vaughan Gething will lead today’s Welsh Government coronavirus briefing.The press conference will focus on North Wales with the minister expected to discuss the outbreak at 2 Sisters in Llangefni.We’ll be bringing you all the latest updates from the press conference.
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