Bala has highest Covid-19 case rate in Wales following bakery outbreak
Gareth Williams, local democracy reporter
The location of a Coronavirus outbreak linked to a food production plant has become Wales’ Covid hotspot, according to the latest figures.
It was announced on Wednesday that 42 cases have been linked to an outbreak at Bala’s Cake Crew plant, leading to many of its 330 workers having to self-isolate to try to limit any further spread.
According to the latest daily figures five new cases were recorded in Bala and Mawddwy today, bringing the area’s total to 127 since the start of the pandemic.
Gwynedd, at 28.9, is now the county showing the highest rate per 100,000 people over the past seven days – although still well down on the height of spread over the winter months.
But while the immediate area’s figures had until now been among the lowest in Wales, 18 of those 127 have been recorded over the past ten days alone, meaning that the community of Bala and
Mawddwy is currently recording more positive cases than any other in Wales over that period.
While public health officials are leading the management of the outbreak – including colleagues over the border in Shropshire – it’s understood that several of the workers are not resident in Bala or the immediate area.
The local MP, Liz Saville Roberts, said: “I am very concerned to hear reports of a Covid-19 outbreak in Bala.
“Whilst the vaccine roll-out progresses well, we must continue to exercise caution and follow all public health guidance.
“My office and I stand ready to offer our full support to those affected.”
A meeting of Gwynedd’s Communities Scrutiny Committee on Thursday was also reminded of the importance of maintaining and expanding the authority’s public protection service in light of such local outbreaks, with a cabinet report currently being prepared.
In a statement on Wednesday, the local Incident Management Team (IMT) said: “42 cases have so far been linked to an outbreak at Bala’s Cake Crew plant, leading to many of its 330 workers having to self-isolate to try and limit any further spread.
“All staff who have tested positive or who have been identified as contacts are being asked to self-isolate to help stop the spread of the virus.
“Everyone who is affected are being contacted by the local Test, Trace and Protect teams and provided with additional advice for themselves, their household and other contacts.
“In addition, one pupil from Ysgol Godre’r Berwyn has also tested positive for Covid-19 and is linked to the Cake Crew outbreak. They along with all relevant contacts from the school are self-isolating.
“The school has acted promptly and are working with the local Test, Trace and Protect team to offer advice to the relevant families.”
A statement from The Cake Crew released on Thursday said: “The Cake Crew appreciate the support of Gwynedd Council’s Public Health team as part of a co-ordinated response to cases of Covid, in conjunction with Public Health Wales, Betsi Cadwaladr health board, and Shropshire Council.
“We are working hard to support the Incident Management Team and comply with their guidance. We believe that we have taken swift action to stem the potential transmission of the virus and are working closely with the Public Health team as well as with Track, Trace and Protect.
“The cases of Covid have developed rapidly over the course of the past week, though the majority of positive tests relate to staff who had already been required to self-isolate away from our site.
“Our priority is the wellbeing of our staff, their families and the local community and our thoughts and best wishes are with those colleagues who have had a positive Covid test.
“Adhering to Government guidelines, continuing to test our staff frequently and the self-isolation of a significant element of our workforce allows us to protect our colleagues, families and community.”