The number of workers infected with Covid-19 at an Aberdeenshire meat processing plant rose by eight overnight to 86.
An incident management team is looking into the rise in cases at the Kepak McIntosh Donald factory in Portlethen, the containment of which has garnered praise from the First Minister.
After a number of cases were recorded in association with the Cookstown Road facility, NHS Grampian offered testing to the site’s employees on Monday.
More than 200 staff took up the offer.
NHS Grampian believes the cluster of cases is contained within those working at the plant.
The first cases at the factory were reported on November 16, when the health board began working with the operators to ensure appropriate control measures were in place.
Those efforts failed to halt the spread, however, and representatives from the NHS, the plant, environmental health and Food Standards Scotland are now investigating.
Maureen Watt, MSP for Aberdeen South and North Kincardine raised the “hugely worrying” number of cases associated with the plant in the Holyrood chamber.
She asked what measures were in place to prevent further outbreaks assuming officials have a better understanding of how they are occurring.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon replied: “There’s a lot of work been done to ensure the right precautions are being put in place in food processing plants and that where there are cases, they are identified quickly and the right steps are taken quickly.”
Ms Surgeon said that included “testing of wider workforces to try and minimise spread within work places but also, most importantly, to try to minimise the risk of an outbreak in somewhere like Kepak proceeding into wider community transmissions”.
“So that’s an important focus and I know in Grampian right now it’s a very important focus for the public health teams there,” she added
The first minister also offered assurances that the outbreak, at the moment, isn’t threatening an imminent move for the region from level 2 to 3 restrictions.
“Not taking away from the seriousness of the situation, we have seen a rise in cases in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire but one of the things we can take some assurance from is that much of that can be attributed to outbreaks like this rather than being indicative of more widespread increases in community transmission,” Mrs Sturgeon added.
“We will continue to monitor that carefully but it is one of the reasons right now, not withstanding these increases, we have not felt it necessary to move Aberdeen or Aberdeenshire up a level.”