What we know about police evacuation of Welsh vaccine factory

A Welsh coronavirus vaccine plant was evacuated after a “suspicious package” arrived at the site.

The incident occurred at the Wockhardt UK factory, in Wrexham Industrial Estate, where the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is “filled and stored”.

Wockhardt UK is is one of the UK’s largest generic pharmaceutical companies, supplying medicines such as insulin, diamorphine and heparins to the NHS, and its site in north Wales employs around 400 people.

Emergency services, including a bomb disposal unit, arrived at the plant just after 10.30am on Wednesday, January 27.

A number of surrounding roads were closed and cordoned off by police as the public were urged to stay away from the area as the plant was evacuated.

The vaccine factory had to be evacuated as a result of the incident
(Image: Ian Cooper/North Wales Live)
A bomb disposal unit was in attendance
(Image: Ian Hunter)

Ian Hunter, a technician, was at the site at the time of the incident and told North Wales Live: “We were loading up the wagons when the police arrived and set up a cordon.

“Initially we thought it might be a visiting dignitary following Boris Johnson’s visit just before Christmas.

“But then the Bomb Squad arrived and the police widened the cordon to a much bigger area.

“The police told us to stand back. We thought they must be dealing with a suspect package or something.”

Mr Hunter later described hearing a “bang” which he thought was a controlled explosion taking place at the plant.

Vaccination production had to be “temporarily paused” because of the incident, however, Wockhardt UK confirmed that it had “in no way” affected its production schedule.

Emergency services were at the scene for much of the day
(Image: Ian Cooper/North Wales Live)
Police cordoned off surrounding roads to prevent access to the site
(Image: Eleanor Barlow/PA Wire)

The surrounding roads reopened at around 4.30pm and workers who had been waiting outside the cordon were allowed back inside.

A spokeswoman for the company said: “Given that staff safety is our main priority manufacturing was temporarily paused whilst this took place safely.

“We can now confirm that the package was made safe and staff are now being allowed back into the facility.

“This temporary suspension of manufacturing has in no way affected our production schedule and we are grateful to the authorities and experts for their swift response and resolution of the incident.”

Wockhardt UK had to “temporarily pause” vaccination production
(Image: Ian Cooper/North Wales Live)

North Wales Police explained that the contents of the package would be taken away for analysis while investigations continue.

A spokesman for the force said: “We received a call at 10.41am this morning (Wednesday) reporting that a suspicious package had been received at the Wockhardt factory on Wrexham Industrial Estate.

“Officers attended and imposed a security cordon around the site, closing roads to all traffic.

“Colleagues from the Royal Logistics Corp Bomb Disposal Unit attended and examined the package to make sure it was safe to handle.

“The contents will be taken away for analysis and police will undertake an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident.

“There are no wider concerns for public safety, however some roads on the industrial estate will remain closed whilst we continue our investigations.”

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First Minister Mark Drakeford thanked those at the scene for “keeping us all safe”.

In a statement, the First Minister said: “We are working with local police and the military to find out more about this incident.

“Thank you to the security personnel who are on-site to protect lives and ensure the safety of our vaccine supply.

“This highlights the vital role they play in keeping us all safe. Diolch.”

WalesOnline – Wales News