HSE postpones Covid-19 testing at meat plants

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has said that Covid-19 testing at meat plants is to be postponed, apparently on a temporary basis.

Sinn Féin TD for Tipperary Martin Browne said he was informed that the HSE decided on Tuesday (September 8) to postpone testing for Covid-19 at all food processing factories.

According to Browne, the HSE told him: “A decision was taken [on Tuesday] nationally to postpone Covid testing at food processing plants because of the increased capacity needed at the moment to deal with people with symptoms.

The decision to recommence Covid testing at food processing plants will also be taken at national level.

Responding to this decision, Browne said: “This is an extremely concerning development on a number of levels. In recent months, clusters have been identified at food processing facilities. Yet when the number of cases nationally begins to rise, these are the first settings to have regular testing suspended. It defies belief.

“It also brings into question the overall capacity we have to test on a level that can assure the public that what can be done to protect them is being done. This decision will only add to the concerns of the public about the resources that are available to test, track and trace, especially when we are witnessing an increase in cases,” the Sinn Féin TD added.

He continued: “The lack of public engagement on this decision has also left the government with questions to answer. Are they afraid that their own incompetence will shine through.

It is a scandalous decision and shows how this chaotic government has adopted what seems to be a chaotic approach to tackling this disease.

“We have publicans whose premises have been forced to stay closed for six months even though no clusters were found in their premises, yet testing has been suspended at the very locations where clusters have been a matter of national debate for months,” Browne highlighted.

The TD concluded: “The government needs to immediately get its act together and confirm that it has the resources to deal with the current rise in cases.”