Fifty construction workers from Edinburgh St James Quarter project self isolating following Covid-19 outbreak

More than ten workers have tested positive with Covid-19 on the construction site of the multi-million pound Edinburgh St James Quarter project.

Thursday, 18th February 2021, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 18th February 2021, 10:35 am

It was confirmed on Wednesday that 11 construction workers in total had tested positive and are now self isolating at home.

Through test and protect, a further 39 close contacts were identified and are now self isolating.

There are around 1,000 people in total working on the site which is set to open the first phase of its retail, dining and leisure elements in Spring of 2021.

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Out of 1,000 workers on site, 50 are currently self isolating after 11 tested positive for the virus

After hearing rumours of the outbreak, worried workers on site expressed concern that there had not been an official announcement of the outbreak from main contractor Laing O’Rourke and claimed that Covid-19 measures in place were not effective.

In January, a Scotland on Sunday investigation found building sites where staff claim “Covid safe” practices such as mask wearing and social distancing are non-existent - except on days when inspectors are on site.

At the time, a St James Quarter construction worker claimed: “Social distancing is non-existent on this site. There are around 12 or 13 guys huddled round talking, with no mask whatsoever. This is consistent throughout the whole site. We don’t stay in our own work bubbles, so could potentially be in close contact with hundreds of different households every day. There is very minimal hand sanitising points on site as well and poor one way systems in place that nobody follows.

“We were told to keep our distance and wear a mask all day. If you were caught, you would be red carded and off site. Yet, there is nobody enforcing these rules and still people not distancing, wearing masks, and large groups together pretty much on top of each other.”

Now, a month on from the investigation an outbreak has been confirmed by the construction giant.

A Laing O’Rourke spokesperson said: “The safety of our workforce is our priority. Since the start of the pandemic we have focused on adapting our sites, making numerous changes to make them Covid secure, amending procedures that go beyond Scottish guidance for construction activities. The project has been inspected by national statutory bodies, Scottish Government and council representatives who have confirmed the effectiveness of the measures.

“Where an individual tests positive, we ensure they follow national guidance and self-isolate immediately. We also move expediently to implement track and protect procedures. The contacts of anyone who has tested positive are required to leave the project and isolate. Work in the zone in which the individuals who tested positive were working is then paused to enable the area to be deep cleaned before work resumes safely.”

A spokesperson for NHS Lothian said: “Our Health Protection Team is working closely with Edinburgh City Council and Laing O’Rourke following a number of Covid cases linked to the St James Quarter development.

“The team has identified a number of cases and all close contacts involved are being advised to self-isolate as per guidelines. All necessary guidance and advice is being provided and the situation will be closely monitored.

“To respect and maintain confidentiality, no further details will be released.”

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