121 cases of Covid-19 found in first round of serial testing in meat plants

The first round of serial Covid-19 testing in meat processing plants has been completed.

In a statement to AgriLand, the HSE said that as of yesterday (Sunday, October 11), out of almost 30,000 tests that were done across 81 meat plants, there were 121 positive cases. The positivity rate is 0.41%.

The next round of testing commenced today (Monday, October 12) on a four-week schedule.

The HSE, on a nationwide basis, commenced a serial testing programme at large meat processing plants (with workforces of more than 50) on August 21. As part of this testing programme, it is testing approximately 80 meat production facilities nationwide, which is informed with guidance from HSE Public Health.

There were 825 cases of Covid-19 confirmed today in Ireland. This brings the total amount of cases in the country to 43,531.

All HSA Inspections Carried Out In September Were Unannounced

Meanwhile, AgriLand recently reported that all of the inspections in meat processing plants by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) last month were carried out unannounced.

A spokesperson for the HSA said that so far, there have been 23 meat processing plant inspections recorded for September, all of which were unannounced, meaning plants were not given prior notice to HSA officials attending sites to carry out inspections.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue said last month that he would seek for these inspections in meat plants to be carried out predominantly unannounced.

In August, there were 26 inspections carried out in meat plants, with 25 of these carried out unannounced.

Inquiry into meat plants is ‘the least those who have been failed should expect’

A commitment to an inquiry into the “deficiencies” in the meat sector is the “very least that those who have been failed by meat plants should expect” according to Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy.

The deputy was responding to the final report of the Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid-19 Response, which he feels “paints a damning image of how Covid-19 was handled in meat processing plants”.

In the report, the committee has referred a number of matters related to meat plants to both the Joint Committee on Agriculture and the Marine and the Joint Committee on Health.

Deputy Carthy, the Sinn Féin spokesperson on agriculture, says that the report “charts a way forward for the sector”. He added that it highlighted “several failings on the part of the state to monitor and control the outbreak in meat plants”.