16 meat plants affected by Covid-19 clusters

There are now 16 meat plants across the country that have been identified as Covid-19 clusters by the Health Service Executive (HSE).

Yesterday, Tuesday, May 19, in the Department of Health’s daily briefing on Covid-19, the department’s chief medical officer Dr. Tony Holohan confirmed the number of clusters among meat processing facilities.

These clusters account for 828 cumulative cases over the last two months, with some 320 of those cases being diagnosed within the last week.

Yesterday, Meat Industry Ireland (MII), the body that represents the meat processing industry, said that 496 workers who had been diagnosed – or about 60% of all affected workers – have gone through self-isolation, have recovered and have returned to work.

“It is disappointing that, despite the range of measures put in place to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, the number of cases reported by the HSE has continued to rise,” MII said in a statement last night.

However, the representative body insisted that its members “acted promptly” to address the threat posed by Covid-19; and that by mid-March all MII members had developed protocols and implemented “a wide range” of protective measures to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

The association says these steps were completed “well in advance” of the Government’s introduction of widespread emergency lock-down measures to protect the country from the threat of the virus on March 27 last.

Where positive cases have increased and clusters evolved, companies have worked closely and openly with the HSE officials at local level and where deemed necessary by the HSE, conducted full screening tests.

“Members’ initial measures have been continuously updated and strengthened by new actions introduced in light of experiences of dealing with the challenges encountered in individual sites,” according to MII.