Concerns that workplaces ‘could become new source of Covid-19 outbreaks’

Concerns are mounting that workplaces could become the new source of East Riding coronavirus outbreaks after a better than expected reopening of schools, the council’s public health lead has said.

Monday, 15th March 2021, 2:15 pm
East Riding Council’s Public Health Director Andy Kingdom

East Riding Council’s Public Health Director Andy Kingdom said no local schools had shut after pupils returned to classrooms on Monday, March 8.

He added 0.6 per cent of school pupils were off after coming into contact with coronavirus, not because they have contracted it, following the first week of reopenings.

But Mr Kingdom also said he was concerned about outbreaks emerging elsewhere, particularly in the factories, processing plants and other similar workplaces in East Yorkshire.

The director said: “The first week of schools reopening has gone incredibly well.

“We’ve gone from hardly testing school age children to testing them regularly now, so if there had been a number of cases among young people, teachers and staff we’d have seen that in the results.

“The result of the first week is that as of Friday, no schools have closed.

“The concern was that we’d find a lot more cases and then we’d have to send pupils home again, that hasn’t happened.

“The ones who are off are off not because they have coronavirus but because they’ve come across someone whose infected.

“But that’s not to say there won’t be outbreaks, I expect there to be because more people are mixing again, but it takes about 10 days before we really know what’s happened from the numbers. If parents or anyone is concerned or confused about testing then talk to your child’s school, all of them have done really well in getting their systems of protection in place.”

Mr Kingdom added public health officials’ attention was now turning to infections and trends in wider communities as the return of pupils coincides with some parents going back to work.

The director said: “The issue isn’t about schools, it’s about what happens in the rest of society and what the reopening of schools allows communities to do. We’re going to get more cases in workplaces because that’s where people have more social contact.

“We may start to see more outbreaks in them, and once coronavirus gets into workplaces it can get through people very quickly.

“Then the worry is that someone catches coronavirus at work, they take it home, pass it onto their children then they take it into a school.

“My advice would be carry on working from home if you can, but if not then you have the right to work in a coronavirus-secure environment.”