THE revelation that about 200 workers at a Herefordshire vegetable farm are being quarantined after a Covid-19 outbreak shocked the county.

More than 90 had tested positive for the virus, we are now told.

But more disturbing news was to come. Three workers had fled the lockdown at the farm near Mathon, and one of them was known to be infected.

Alarmingly, workers there had visited four shops in a week, raising the worry that they had spread the virus further.

The scale of the incident requires that a review should be held as soon as possible to examine the response of all parties involved. Its findings must, of course, be made public.

RELATED NEWS: Outbreak at farm: cases rise to 93

But this affair has cast another dark shadow that must be addressed.

The xenophobic response of some people to the outbreak has been repellent.

The fear that others have been put at risk by a breach of lockdown rules is understandable; the racist response by a minority is not.

This is an issue of public health, not race. The behaviour of the workers at the farm may or may not turn out to be relevant, but their race will never be pertinent.

Those who are from abroad are in Herefordshire to work hard doing jobs that local people are unwilling or unable to do.

They contribute to the overall prosperity of the country, and as disease victims they are more deserving of compassion than contempt.

RELATED NEWS: All our stories about the coronavirus outbreak at the farm are here