A FACTORY has been closed for deep cleaning after an employee is understood to have become ill with the coronavirus.

The Cummins plant in Darlington is understood to have closed last night after an employee became ill.

An employee, who works at the site in Darlington, told the Northern Echo that workers had been told to return to the factory on Monday.

He said: “People are not very happy.

“I think workers are going to say we are not working in these conditions. On the two shifts I’ve been on about 110 people have not turned up. We are running skeleton staffing because people are falling ill or are self-isolating.

“They have tried to bring in the 2m distance this week but otherwise we have been working on top of each other. It’s like the horse has already bolted.

“They sent everyone home on the back shift so they could do deep cleaning today and over the weekend. I don’t think it’s good enough.”

Cummins says it has modified operations to ensure social distancing measures can be adhered to and is taking "every possible step" to ensure workers safety.

A spokesman for the company said: “In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cummins Limited’s top priority is to keep our employees safe across our UK sites.

“The company provides products and services that are critical to supporting customers and communities around the world, and to maintaining emergency healthcare infrastructure and other vital services.

“Our products provide emergency back-up power to hospitals and data centres, which are both critical at this time, as well as engines for truck delivery services that are essential for the supply of food and medicine.

“We take our responsibility in maintaining essential infrastructure very seriously. As such, we feel it is imperative that we keep essential facilities open and operational, in order to continue to supply equipment, which is necessary for core services.

“We are in regular discussion with the UK Government about our operational arrangements and will respond to any changes in policy or guidance should it be required.

“Across our UK sites, all employees with specific medical conditions who are at greater risk have been told to stay at home and other employees who can work at home have been advised to do so.

“This enables the company to focus its safety efforts at the facilities where employees must be on site to perform their jobs.

“For those working at our sites, we have modified operations to ensure that social distancing and other safety measures are in force. Clear guidelines on the precautions that employees should take have been issued and these follow Government guidance.

“In Darlington specifically, we have closed the facility to instigate a deep clean, and have reinforced our social distancing measures to make them even more robust.

“The health and safety of our employees is paramount and we shall continue to enforce these measures for as long as they are needed.”