A mobile testing lab has been set up at JD Sports’ central warehouse in Rochdale after a small number of workers there tested positive for coronavirus.
Rochdale borough council said it was investigating if there were any links between cases at the fashion retailer’s site which were identified through its local test-and-trace system after testing “as many employees as possible.”
Rochdale was identified as a hotspot for Covid-19 infections at the start of this month when new figures on local outbreaks emerged. While the rate of infection in the town was less than half that of Leicester, where a local lockdown has been imposed, the local council is keen to identify any potential centres of infection.
One local councillor has called for JD’s Rochdale site, known as Kingsway, to be closed down, according to local reports. However, it is understood that of nearly 500 people tested at JD from this weekend through the mobile lab, only one additional case has been identified so far.
Andrea Fallon, the council’s director of public health, said: “We are aware of a small number of positive cases at JD Sports who have been contacted as part of our local contact tracing service, and are now all self-isolating. Although the numbers are small and we are still working to understand if there are any possible links, we are taking a cautious approach and working closely with JD to bring in additional resource to offer testing to as many employees as possible.”
The council is understood to have made more than 10 visits to JD’s warehouse during the pandemic, several of which were unannounced. No problems with JD’s adherence to social distancing procedures were found on those visits. The council says it will take action against anyone found flouting the rules.
JD said it was aware that the number of positive tests for Covid-19 was above the national average in Rochdale and Oldham where many of its staff live.
A spokesman said: “Acknowledging our responsibilities as one of the largest employers in the area, we are pleased to be working with the NHS and the local council to provide a mobile NHS testing facility on site, with voluntary tests available for any colleagues who are looking for peace of mind. This testing facility has been made available as part of the council’s ongoing community initiatives in the Rochdale area, and will be available to colleagues on a number of days over the next two weeks. The health and safety of our colleagues is always our highest priority and we will continue to take all measures to protect their wellbeing.”
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