Covid-19 warning to Melton workers who share cars

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Latest news EMN-201008-175153001
The county’s top health official has urged Melton workers to ‘think twice’ before they car share because of the risk of transmitting Covid-19 to others.

Mike Sandys, director of public health for Leicestershire County Council, was giving general advice to employees of local businesses but his warning came after several reports were made to the Melton Times about multiple people sharing vehicles before going in to work at the town’s Melton Foods factory.

The plant, which revealed last week that a small number of employees had tested positive for coronavirus, said this week it was discouraging car sharing amongst its workforce and that anyone breaking safety protocols on the practice would face disciplinary action.

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Mr Sandys, who is overseeing a campaign to address a recent spike in cases in Melton, told the Melton Times: “When it comes to car sharing – there is clearly a risk if you’re with people you don’t live with.

“We would urge people to think twice before they car share and use alternatives if they can.

“If they can’t – try to travel with the same people each time, keep to small groups, open windows, wear face coverings and try to face away from each other.”

A woman, who declined to be named, contacted the Melton Times about an incident she witnessed on the A607 outside Melton Foods, commenting: “Myself and my partner witnessed a car dropping off at least seven people on the turning for Eye Kettleby and they then proceeded to walk to the Samworth Brothers factory.

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“I’m appalled that this is still happening under the circumstances.”

Others have also voiced similar concerns to this newspaper about other vehicles arriving in the last fortnight to bring groups ranging between three and five employees to work there.

A spokesperson for Samworth Brothers, which owns the Melton Foods factory, told the Melton Times: “We are discouraging car share and have put on a number of additional bus services to help colleagues get to work.

“If colleagues feel they have no other option than to car share we have set out very clear rules that allows one person per seat row, with windows open and occupants wearing masks.

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“We have a team of social distancing marshalls monitoring the site including entrance areas.

“If colleagues are found to be breaking these rules, they could be subject to disciplinary action.”

We reported last week that the company said there had been a small number of Covid-19 cases at the factory but that they were ‘related to community transmission rather than the workplace’.

A new coronavirus test site was set up on Thursday in Melton, close to the borough council offices, after a concerning rise in cases in the town.

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It will be there for a month as a result of the increase which saw 32 people test positive in a fortnight period compared to just 10 in the previous two weeks.

Those affected were mainly residents in the north and west of the town and last week leaflets were delivered to 20,000 people living in the hotspot areas urging them to take a test if they have symptoms.

County Hall has been working closely with residents, businesses and Melton Borough Council to step up testing for local people who have symptoms of coronavirus.

The main advice being given out to keep people safe includes ensuring they adhere to social distancing, they wash their hands regularly and cover their face in enclosed spaces.

Go online at www.leicestershire.gov.uk/prevent-the-spread-of-the-virus for information on how to limit the spread of Covid-19.

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