The energy services firm at the centre of the north-east Brazilian Covid scare has spoken out about the unfolding health crisis.
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.
Yesterday the firm faced accusations it had put money before workers’ health, as a whistleblower told The P&J it should have employed local contractors instead.
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 any spread of the virus.
She also confirmed a school, believed to be in the city, has a “connection” to the cases.
Bureau Veritas: ‘Party followed all guidelines’
Paul Shrieve, the president of Bureau Veritas Solutions for marine and offshore, 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.
Mr Shrieve 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 own employees.
“We have rigorous procedures in place that go above and beyond the recommended government guidelines.”
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.
“The most important thing is the health of our employees.
“All three employees are now Covid-free and we are very pleased they are recovering and back with their families.”
Search for plane passengers
Ms Freeman said “targeted testing” is focusing on workers’ close contacts and, in turn, all of that group’s close contacts.
“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.
Extensive testing taking place
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.
“However Covid-19, regardless of variant, spreads in the same way.
“Sticking to the current restrictions and following Facts will help limit the spread.”
Following the detection of three cases of a COVID-19 Variant of Concern in Grampian, the National Contact Tracing Centre is working hard to trace all passengers who were onboard BA Flight 1312 from Heathrow to Aberdeen on 29 January.
— NHS Grampian (@NHSGrampian) March 2, 2021
Last night Brazilian health officials called for nationwide lockdowns and a curfew, as hospitals there are running short of intensive care beds.
More than 1,000 people are dying every day from the new strain first found in Manaus, with last week proving the country’s deadliest since the pandemic began.
Almost 260,000 people have died from the disease in the South American country.