Matt Hancock reveals coronavirus outbreak in Kirklees workplace

Matt Hancock has been accused of being “thoughtless, sloppy and unhelpful” in announcing a coronavirus outbreak in Yorkshire as part of the daily Downing Street briefing.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock. Photo: PA

Health Secretary Mr Hancock, told the nation of the cases in Kirklees today, as he insisted plans for local lockdowns were already up and running.

Kober Ltd, a meat manufacturer in Cleckheaton, was confirmed as the location of the outbreak tonight by owners Asda. It is understood a small number of cases were identified and around 100 contacts have been traced.

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Mr Hancock said mobile testing units had been sent to the area and Labour MP Tracy Brabin said the council were dealing with the cluster well.

The revelation comes after local leaders and directors of public health said they were in the dark about what a local lockdown actually was, and whether they had the power to enact it.

However Mr Hancock said: “The system is already up and running.

“In fact, I chaired a meeting this morning of our local action committee, which is the formal process through which we make these decisions, working with local leaders, for instance, in

Kirklees. And the local director of public health and the council are heavily involved in the response.”

But Ms Brabin, whose Batley and Spen constituency Cleckheaton falls under, criticised the way in which Mr Hancock had revealed the outbreak, which she said was “thoughtless, sloppy and unhelpful”. She said: “My anger is the way we were thrown to the wolves.”

But she added: “No-one in Kirklees should be concerned. Having spoken to the council they’ve acted very swiftly, I’m proud of them but I’m really frustrated Matt Hancock took it on himself to announce it like that.”

Director of Public Health at Kirklees Council Rachel Spencer-Henshall said: “We were made aware of a number of positive cases of Covid-19 at a workplace in Kirklees.

“We have been providing support and advice to both the management and employees in order to minimise any further transmission.”

Addressing concerns that local leaders in general felt left in the dark over local lockdown plans, Mr Hancock said: “We are getting better and better engagement with each local area and as I said, you can see it on the ground from the example in Kirklees right now. But of course there’s more and more councils that we need to engage.”