‘NO EVIDENCE COVID SURGE LINKED TO TEXTILE INDUSTRY’
...But three firms investigated, one told to act to protect staff
NO link has been proven between textile firms and the rise in coronavirus cases, the city council says.
Following comments by ministers including Home Secretary Priti Patel, deputy mayor Councillor Adam Clarke said while factories are a key part of community testing: “We are told Public Health England (PHE) has found no evidence to suggest the rise in cases is linked to the textile industry.”
A PHE spokeswoman said: “We cannot definitely attribute the increase in cases to any one source.”
However, the Health and Safety Executive said it is “investigating three textile businesses” one of which has been issued with an Improvement Notice requiring it to “take action to control the risk of Covid-19 in the workplace”.
A spokeswoman said further inquires are being made with some businesses to ensure they comply with latest guidelines.
THERE is no evidence conditions within Leicester’s textile trade have contributed to the recent outbreak of coronavirus that led to the city being locked down, council bosses say.
There have been suggestions some of the city’s more than 1,000 clothing manufacturers have been operating in conditions where staff were put at risk of infection in cramped workshops where the correct steps had not been taken to protect them.
Campaign group Labour without Labels, which has been pressing for years to improve working practices in the sector, last month released a report saying manufacturers were being pressured into opening in defiance of lockdown to meet orders and that staff had been ordered into work even when ill with the virus.
The report triggered a response from senior government ministers, including Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme there had been coronavirus outbreaks at food and clothing producers in the city, as he stressed stopping the spread of coronavirus was “the number one problem”.
Now, however, Leicester City Council has said the textile trade has not been proven to be the root of the problem.
Deputy mayor Councillor Adam Clarke said: “We are told that Public Health England has found no evidence to suggest the rise in cases in the city is linked to the textile industry.
“Significant community testing is now under way in Leicester and workplaces and factory settings will be an important part of this in helping us to track and prevent the further transmission of the virus.”
A Public Health England spokeswoman said: “The increase in cases in the area reflects activity in a number of settings in Leicester.
“While there have been cases associated with food processing factories and other workplaces, there is evidence of transmission occurring in households, meaning we cannot definitely attribute the increase in cases to any one source.”
On Friday, police said they had carried out routine visits at nine workplaces in the city to ensure health and safety.
No closure orders were issued and no enforcement was used, the force said.
Detective Inspector Jenni Heggs added: “We are aware of recent reports in the media of factories in Leicester continuing their operational work despite being in a period of lockdown.
“We have been working with partners sharing information to carry out these visits, which we will continue to do.”
There are now five testing stations around the city, which has had its non-essential shops and schools close again in a bid to contain the virus.
Pubs and restaurants and hairdressers were also prevented from reopening within a lockdown zone that covered the whole city and nearby parts of the county.
The lockdown will remain in place until at least July 18 and will only be lifted when infection rates in the city fall.
Latest figures from the Department of Health and Social Care reveal Leicester still has the highest infection rate, of 1,083.8 per 100,000.
The next highest infection rate is in Oldham, where it is 778.
Public Health England has found no evidence to suggest the rise in cases is linked to the textile industry
Adam Clarke, right