A DEVIZES factory which supplies cakes to upmarket supermarkets M&S and Waitrose has been hit by coronavirus.

On Monday evening the night shift held a strike for six hours from 6pm to midnight over fears the Bakkavor was not taking enough safety precautions. It is understood five people who are bussed in from Swindon, where the number of people with the virus has soared in the past week, have tested positive.

Bakkavor, which used to be known as Haydens Bakery, on the Hopton Industrial today confirmed that it has suffered a coronavirus outbreak. A spokesman said: "A small number of colleagues have recently tested positive for COVID-19 at our Bakkavor Desserts site in Devizes, which employs 540 people. 

"In the event of a positive confirmation, we have an immediate and clear plan to follow and we are working closely with PHE.

"Due to the nature of our business, we already have high standards of hygiene, good manufacturing practice and handwashing in place. 

"In these unprecedented times, we have further enhanced our safety and hygiene measures  in line with all government guidelines and daily temperature test our colleagues.   We also have a robust return to work policy in place to ensure those returning to work are fit and well.

"We wish these colleagues a speedy recovery."

The company refused to say exactly how many people have tested positive but said it was less than one per cent of its 540 employees which would equate to the figure of five which employees have told the Gazette have been affected.

The company would not discuss testing of the workforce in general but said production was continuing as normal.

One staff member said: "Everyone is very worried. There has not been a deep clean of the building.

"Lots of people are very angry."

Another worried person from Devizes, who lives with someone who works on the factory floor, said: "People are being bussed in from Swindon where there are very high number of people with coronavirus and has been put on a watch list by the Government.

"It is putting everyone at risk, not just the people who work at the factory. Surely everyone working there should have been tested and the whole place closed while cleaning was carried out."

Wiltshire councillor Laura Mayes, whose ward includes the Hopton Industrial Estate, said: "We have a management plan in place and the team leading this would have been informed by Public Health England.

"It is a worry but I am afraid these small outbreaks are something we are going to have to get used to."

Kate Blackburn, Director of Public Health, Wiltshire Council, said: “ Following a small number of employees testing positive for COVID-19 at Bakkavor bakery, the company followed the correct reporting procedure and are working closely with colleagues at PHE and Wiltshire Council to ensure good control measures have been implemented. 

“The cases have been managed appropriately and any contacts identified are now self-isolating for 14 days in line with government guidance. Staff returning to work will be required to be signed off by the company’s occupational health team. We continue to provide advice and guidance to ensure high standards of hygiene and social distancing are maintained.”