By Jenness Mitchell & Colin Wight
A coronavirus-hit chicken factory intends to reopen at the end of the month once its workers have self-isolated.
On Monday, the 2 Sisters processing plant in Coupar Angus, Perthshire, announced it had suspended operations following a cluster of nine positive Covid-19 cases reported at the weekend.
NHS Tayside launched an investigation into the outbreak and its Incident Management Team later ordered all workers, along with their households, to self-isolate until August 31 in an effort to “prevent further spread of the infection in the community”.
A spokesperson for 2 Sisters said: “Our management team were distressed and dismayed when the first cases were announced last weekend.
“Prior to this, we had operated for six months without a single positive case recorded, and prior to last week, this gave us confidence that the measures we had put in place since late March were robust and working.
“Our existing measures will be refined and reviewed yet again before we reopen our facility on August 31.
“We wrote to all colleagues last night explaining that wages would be paid as normal on Friday.
“We are still in dialogue with the union and Government officials about next week’s payment, but expect an update early next week.”
The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases linked to the site currently stands at 68.
The health board reported 59 are factory workers and nine are close contacts. Two of the contacts also have a link to two other factories in the Tayside area.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described the outbreak as a “significant cluster” at her daily briefing on Thursday.
The spokesperson for 2 Sisters added: “We continue to work extremely closely with the Incident Management Team, associated agencies and the Scottish Government.
“We would like to thank them for their advice, guidance and prompt actions after we took the decision late on Sunday evening to suspend production.
“Our continuing key priority is the health, safety and wellbeing of all our colleagues, demonstrated by our actions in ceasing production so rapidly.”
NHS Tayside said 844 staff members have been tested to date.
A mobile testing unit will remain on site at the factory until Monday.
An additional testing site for workers will be set up at Blackness Fire Station in Dundee on Saturday and Sunday between 10am and 6pm.
A mobile testing unit will also be set up at Broxden Park and Ride in Perth until Monday.
Dr Emma Fletcher, associate director of public health for NHS Tayside, said: “We remain in a high state of vigilance across Tayside and we are continuing to monitor all the measures we have put in place to ensure we are doing everything we can to stop the spread of this virus in the community.”