United Kingdom

Company defends flying workers from Brazil to Scotland who then tested positive for new Covid strain

A company has defended its decision to fly in three workers from Brazil to Scotland, despite fears about a new Covid variant.

They all tested positive for coronavirus after arriving in Aberdeen but Bureau Veritas said it needed their expertise for 'critical' work.

The testing and inspection firm, based in France, has been accused of putting money before workers' health.

Paul Shrieve, the president of Bureau Veritas Solutions for marine and offshore, said: 'The employees - all highly qualified experts in marine and naval technology - were required to carry out critical work on an offshore facility to ensure it could continue to operate safely.

'As a global leader in health and safety that has been working with organisations throughout the pandemic to implement Covid-secure measures, we lead by example in protecting our employees.'

At the start of last month, three Bureau Veritas employees tested positive for the new strain after flying into Aberdeen, with two later requiring hospital treatment.

They had travelled from Brazil - via London and Paris - where the variant, which is believed to be much more contagious, was first detected in January.

Paul Shrieve, the president of Bureau Veritas Solutions for marine and offshore has said the three workers who were flown from Brazil to Aberdeen were experts required for 'critical work'

But Bureau Veritas defended itself, saying the work was 'critical' and required the trio of experts to be flown out.

The issue was also raised at Holyrood as Jeane Freeman explained the latest steps being taken to prevent the spread of the virus.

She also confirmed a school, believed to be in the city, has a 'connection' to the cases.

Mr Shrieve said the three employees tested positive for the Brazilian Covid variant on February 5.

The group had been working in Brazil between December 23 and January 29, and are now Covid-free.

He added: 'In this case, at every stage of the journey, the party acted in accordance with national and international guidelines, as well as Bureau Veritas company guidelines, and completed mandatory isolation and testing prior to boarding the plane.

'All three employees are now Covid-free and we are very pleased they are recovering and back with their families.'

Ms Freeman said 'targeted testing' is focusing on workers' close contacts and, in turn, all of that group's close contacts.

Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman (pictured right) confirmed a school believed to be in Aberdeen, has a 'connection' to the cases and that testing has taken place for those involved

'All those staff who were in contact with those individuals have been tested, in addition to the regular testing that our NHS staff undergo,' she said.

'There is a connection with a local school - again, testing for those involved there.'

She also confirmed work is continuing to identify all passengers on the BA flight 1312 from Heathrow to Aberdeen on January 29, as some had provided incorrect contact details.

Anyone who did not provide up-to-date information when flying is being asked to contact the NHS National Contact Tracing Centre on 0800 030 8012.

A spokeswoman for NHS Grampian said: 'Tracing contacts of contacts is not usual practice but is taking place for these cases as an additional precaution.

'We would again stress that the overwhelming majority of people living and working in Grampian will be unaffected by these particular cases.

More than 1,000 people are dying every day from the new strain first found in Manaus, Brazil. Pictured: Workers bury Covid-19 victim at the Nossa Senhora Aparecida Cemetery, in Manaus

'However Covid-19, regardless of variant, spreads in the same way.

'Sticking to the current restrictions and following Facts will help limit the spread.'

Last night Brazilian health officials called for nationwide lockdowns and a curfew, as hospitals are running short of intensive care beds.

More than 1,000 people are dying every day from the new strain first found in Manaus.

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 257,000 people have died in Brazil from coronavirus with 10,647,845 cases in total.

Football news:

Flamengo, Boca Juniors and River Plate could join the Super League
Barcelona has not yet entered the Super League. For such a decision, you need the approval of the club members
Atletico are also out of the Super League
Bayern and PSG convince the Premier League clubs to abandon the Super League
Chelsea's exit from the Super League is Abramovich's decision. He allowed the documents to be prepared
It looks like the Super League is already collapsing - Chelsea are preparing the exit documents. How the project falls apart on the second day of life: online
Luke Shaw on Super League: Players and fans should have a voice, and their opinions should be taken into account. I fell in love with football when I watched the Premier League and the Champions League