THE number of people testing positive for coronavirus associated with an outbreak at a Wrexham food plant has risen to 237.

Today Councillor Carrie Harper, of Plaid Cymru, called on the Welsh Government to step in to close the factory and furlough staff.

Cllr Harper said: "In light of the increasing numbers of workers testing positive at Rowan Foods, up 28% in 24 hours, it's important that the authorities move swiftly to contain this and ensure it does not transmit into the local community. More than a quarter of those tested have now tested positive.

"One of the problems facing workers is that if they self-isolate they will lose out on income. That's why I'm calling on the Welsh Government to introduce a modified temporary furlough scheme for workers in affected outbreak factories and for financial support for the companies that would also lose money as a result of a 14-day closure. This would compensate both the company and workers while contributing to limiting the risk of transmission.

"A temporary closure to limit transmission has to be a safer move and the additional costs should be borne by the Welsh Government."

There are now more cases at Wrexham than at Llangefni's 2 Sister plant which stands at 216. That plant remains closed.

2 Sisters closed voluntarily for two weeks but Rowan Foods remains open, Health Minister Vaughan Gething clarified. 

Today, a spokesperson for Rowan Foods said the situation had not changed and there were no plans to close the factory.

Speaking at the Welsh Government briefing this morning, Mr Gething said 1,100 people have been tested in Wrexham in connection with the outbreak.

He said some people still needed to be tested, but the number was not as high as first thought as some staff were already out of the workplace.

He described the situation in Wrexham as a "targeted lockdown" involving Rowan Foods workers and their households.

He said he understood the numbers in both communities would concern people in Wrexham and Llangefni but there was no evidence of "community transmission".

There have also been 130 confirmed cases in Merthyr meat plant since April.

"We have issued wider guidance to the sector to prevent this happening again," he said.

"We all need to follow the advice to protect ourselves, loved ones and people we may never meet.

"If you are symptomatic, get a test and self-isolate.

"Keeping Wales safe remains our number-one priority."

In today's Public Health Wales daily statement, Dr Giri Shankar, Incident Director for the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak response at Public Health Wales, addressed the situation in Wrexham.

Dr Shankar said: “Today’s report includes 19 cases identified following an intensive data matching exercise that has taken place over the course of the weekend and 72 historic cases which pre-date the mass sampling at the site.

 “This is as we would expect for any focused track and trace process. The relatively large increase in cases reported does not mean that we have experienced a sudden jump in levels of infection in the Wrexham area as a whole.

“Work has also continued over the weekend to review data and continue contract tracing with the workforce. As a result we have established that around two thirds of the 300 workers we were initially seeking to contact could be removed from our enquiries, as they we either already shielding or have not been working during the period of the outbreak.

“Of the remaining group of employees and contractors (approximately 100 people), we continue to work with the employer and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board to offer testing appointments at local community testing units.

“There is no evidence that Rowan Foods is the source of the outbreak. The multi-agency team managing the outbreak with Public Health Wales will continue to review the situation and work with the employer, their workforce and wider community to bring this outbreak to a swift conclusion."