Police manhunt after three workers escape coronavirus quarantined farm in Herefordshire

Ellena Cruse
·2-min read
Getty Images
Getty Images

Police are on the hunt for three vegetable pickers, including one who tested positive for coronavirus, who have escaped an imposed lockdown at a farm in Herefordshire.

All 220 workers at AS Green and Co farm in Mathon, near Worcester, were placed under quarantine after 73 were found to have Covid-19 last week.

West Mercia Police and Public Health England have now launched an urgent search after three employees fled the quarantine and went missing at the weekend.

The force did not reveal if the escaped workers will face fines under emergency coronavirus laws.

Police are hunting for three farm workers (Getty Images)
Police are hunting for three farm workers (Getty Images)

Herefordshire Commander Superintendent Sue Thomas said: “Within the constraints of the current legislation, we continue to support our partners in Public Health England and Herefordshire County Council as they work with the farm owner and those working there to keep them all safe and to provide reassurance to the local community.

“In relation to an individual who has left the site after testing positive with the virus, we are assisting our colleagues at Public Health England, as required, in order to trace them.”

The force confirmed that three people had left the site in total.

The site has been put in quarantine (Getty Images)
The site has been put in quarantine (Getty Images)

PHE has been contacted for a comment.

During the harvesting season, the workforce resides in mobile homes based on the farm, so as a precaution the whole group are being treated as “one extended bubble”, according to officials.

The council said it is arranging food and essential supplies for residents on the site – who carry out packing and picking work – while they self-isolate.

A spokesman for the farm confirmed that it is working "closely" with PHE after a number of employees tested positive for the strain.

A close-up of a sign at the entrance to the AS Green and Co farm (Getty Images)
A close-up of a sign at the entrance to the AS Green and Co farm (Getty Images)

It said: "As a precautionary measure we have arranged for testing of additional key workers including management team members and visitors connected with AS Green and can confirm all results to date outside of our site have been returned with negative results."

It added: "Our workforce and local community are our priority at this difficult time and we continue to follow the guidance of the relevant bodies to ensure that the spread of the virus is controlled and our workforce is supported.

"Public Health England advises that it is very unlikely Covid-19 can be transmitted through food or food packaging, so shoppers can remain confident buying British fruit and veg."