Quicker Covid-19 test result turnarounds ‘vital’ in keeping supply chain open

Faster turnaround times for Covid-19 tests will be important in ensuring that essential services like the food supply chain are kept functioning, according to the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

Commenting on the matter, IFA president Tim Cullinan said: “The priority during the Covid-19 crisis must remain the health of everybody in society.

“However, we also need to keep essential services such as food production operating.

“We should continue to be guided by the public health authorities. They should decide on the appropriate course of action where cases occur,” he said.

However, it is clear that the quick turnaround of test results will be crucial in keeping businesses open, or in getting them re-opened if the health authorities deem it appropriate and proportionate that they should close.

Any disruption to the food chain has implications for farmers, workers, suppliers and the local economy, the president added.

“The meat processors must take every measure to safeguard their workers,” Cullinan concluded.

Serial testing programme

A serial testing programme – initially on a weekly basis – is set to be rolled out for meat plants and direct provision centres around the country, the Taoiseach Micheál Martin confirmed yesterday evening, Tuesday, August 11.

“It was a comprehensive meeting and the chief medical officer [Ronan Glynn] updated the ministers and officials on the prevalence of the virus nationwide; but also specifically in the three counties of Kildare, Offaly and Laois,” the Taoiseach said.

“He also, along with the Minister of Health Stephen Donnelly, updated us in terms of the testing programmes, and in particular, the introduction of a serial testing programme for our meat factories and our direct provision centres, somewhat similar to what has occurred in nursing homes over the last two months.

That serial testing programme will initially be weekly in the meat plants, and in direct provision centres, with a view to making sure we can keep the pressure on this virus: identify it; isolate it; and deal with it.

“In addition to that, the government also considered the economic impact of this, both nationally and of course on the three counties involved,” Martin said.