Pottery manufacturer Churchill China is closing its factory for three days this weekend following a coronavirus outbreak.
The Stoke-on-Trent company revealed it has seen a rise in the number of Covid-19 cases among employees since it started lateral flow testing last week – forcing it to ‘substantially reduce’ the number of people in the factory at any one time.
And StokeonTrentLive reports that the Sandyford factory is closed today – and over the weekend – as a precautionary measure, with employees staging a staggered return to work from Monday. (15th)
A Churchill China spokesman said: “We have seen a rise in the number of cases of Covid-19 amongst employees at the Sandyford site in the last week, since rolling out a lateral flow testing facility.
“The LFT was introduced as a further step to help protect workers and their family members in the fight against Covid. All colleagues affected are currently self-isolating and Churchill remains in touch with them, offering support.
“The health and well being of our colleagues is always our primary concern and since the start of the pandemic we have taken extensive action to establish safe working processes within our business.
“These measures are constantly reviewed and updated in consultation with both our workforce and local health authorities.”
The spokesman added: “This recent rise in Covid cases required immediate action to prevent further spread.
“To protect the welfare of our employees, on Monday (March 8), we substantially reduced the number of people in the factory as a precautionary measure. This will act as a firebreak period and allow a deep clean of the site to be conducted.
“Employees will have a staggered return from Monday, March 15 with LFT in place to ensure a safe return.
“Our thoughts are with those colleagues affected and we continue to offer them our support.”
It is not known how many positive cases have been recorded at Churchill China, but Stoke-on-Trent City Council has praised the company’s response to the outbreak.
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Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, Stoke-on-Trent City Council director of adult social care, health integration and wellbeing, said: “We’re pleased that a large employer like Churchill China introduced lateral flow testing in the workplace at an early stage. It is through this testing that positive cases have been identified and the potential spread of the virus has been limited.
“Public health teams have worked very closely with the company, advising them on steps to take to continue to protect employees. As part of this work, the company has taken the responsible step to temporarily close for a deep clean of the premises. We continue to work with the business, and wish the staff who have tested positive and are now isolating, a full recovery.
“This demonstrates again, that the significance of regular testing, whether in the workplace, at home, or at any one of our community venues across the city, cannot be underestimated. If you are out and about in the city at all then you should get tested at least once a week.”