SWINDON is not in danger of becoming the next Leicester, says the council’s senior public health officer.

Small Covid-19 outbreaks at four high-profile workplaces in the town – Honda, the Royal Mail delivery office, Iceland distribution centre and fire station – have sparked fears of a local lockdown.

The total number of cases across those sites is 15 and the council has moved to reassure the public that coronavirus is under control in the town.

Director of public health Steve Maddern said: “An outbreak is just two people in a linked situation. So at these four employers there have been more than one case.”

And officials are confident the new infections did not come from the workplace.

Mr Maddern added: “The cases are not linked to each other.

"People are complying closely with regulations at their places of work because there is a lot of support in place there, but might not be following them so closely when they are socialising.

“As lockdown restrictions are eased, we would expect to see small outbreaks to occur – this is usual and it is being dealt with in the usual way.”

Swindon Borough Council has put in place an agreed local outbreak management plan.

Despite Swindon’s rate of infections being higher than other areas of the south west Mr Maddern emphasised it was more than 30 times lower than that of Leicester, which was locked down on June 30.

He said: “The case rate in Swindon is 5.9 in every 100,000 people. Leicester is still in lockdown and has a case rate of 190 per 100,000 people.”

Council leader David Renard said the council and Public Health England and employers in the town were working together,

He said: “It’s important to get on top of these very small outbreaks early, so they don’t turn into bigger outbreaks.

“We are working closely with businesses. They have robust safety measures in place to keep their workforce safe.”

While pubs and restaurants have put in measures to keep both staff and customers safe, Coun Renard said he was expecting the council to be given new powers to close any site identified as a source of an outbreak.

He said: “Public health has to come first. The economy is incredibly important for a whole range of reasons, but we must make sure we can put measures in place to stop the virus spreading.”

The authorities emphasised the need for everybody to maintain social distancing and good hygiene.

Mike Wade from Public Health England South West said: “We are working closely with Swindon Borough Council and local employers to provide public health advice to stop the virus spreading.

“Everyone should be following social distancing advice, both in and out of work, to prevent the spread of the virus.

“Good hygiene is the best prevention and there are some simple steps you can take to protect you, your family and colleagues by washing your hands regularly and thoroughly and if you cough, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue.”

The council’s cabinet member for health Brian Ford added: “We all have a part to play in reducing the risk of infection and must continue to follow social distancing guidance while at work and socialising.”

Three firefighters from Swindon Fire Station tested positive, the Dorset and Wiltshire Fire Service confirmed. It said its emergency response would not be affected.

Assistant chief fire officer James Mahoney said: “We appreciate that this will be of concern, and I want to reassure people that we have had stringent procedures in place since the start of the pandemic to protect staff and members of the public at incidents.”

XPO Logistics runs the Iceland depot at Penzance Drive.

A spokesperson would not confirm the number of Covid-19 cases there but said: "Protecting our employees is our number one priority.

"We’re working closely with the local authorities and adhering to all local and Public Health England guidance to ensure the appropriate health and safety measures are in place."