An infestation of bed bugs at offices in Canary Wharf has spread to different floors of the building as staff working there have been instructed to work from home for two weeks
Office workers have been put on alert after a bed bug infestation at a major government building was found to have spread.
The Mirror revealed last week that the insects had been reported on one floor of the Government’s office building in Canary Wharf in London as sniffer dogs were drafted in to search for more.
Workers at 10 South Colonnade, which is in the shadow of the main One Canada Square tower at Canary Wharf, were told that bed bugs had been discovered on the fourth four. Now they have been warned that the infestation has spread to other parts of the building, including the 10th floor that is used by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Staff working the government agency have been “strongly advised” not to come into the building for at least a fortnight. “The Government Property Agency (GPA) do have a plan to eradicate the infestation, but this is likely to take several weeks,” they were warned. “Bed bugs are not dangerous, but they are unpleasant and difficult to eradicate once they take a hold.”
Workers have been urged to wash clothes they have worn to the office at 60 degrees. They have been advised that bed bugs are “most likely to be found in the seams of soft furnishings” in the office.
Checks are now being carried at other offices used by the MHRA in South Mimms in Hertfordshire and staff have been ordered not to travel between the two sites.
The infestation comes amid fears that bed bugs could spread through the UK after an outbreak in Paris where they were reported in schools, trains, hospitals and cinemas.
Thousands of civil servants have been relocated from Whitehall to the 11-floor building in Canary Wharf that was taken over by the Government in 2016 having previously been home to Barclays Bank. Bodies based in the office block include the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
Bed bug detection dogs go through similar training to the sniffer dogs used to find drugs, money and explosives. They are trained to detect the pheromones emitted by bed bugs. London Mayor Sadiq Khan in October warned that the prospect of a bed bug infestation on the capital’s public transport network was “a real cause for concern”.
Prospect, a union that represents civil servants, said it was speaking to the Government about the outbreak. Garry Graham, Deputy General Secretary, said: “This may seem like a trivial matter but for anyone who has had bedbugs they will know the deep and lasting irritation and inconvenience an infestation can cause. Any employer must take this seriously, health and safety is not just about danger to life. We have raised the matter urgently with the Government Property Agency to be sure they are taking the necessary steps to eradicate the problem and to prevent the threat.”