Meat plants given employees’ Covid-19 test results before workers themselves

Management at some meat plants were given the results of their workers’ Covid-19 tests before the workers themselves, Minister of Health Simon Harris has confirmed.

Minister Harris confirmed the practice to independent TD Denis Naughten, who raised the issue in the Dáil last week, when he presented examples of such practices to the minister.

“The suggestion has been that this was done to overcome a language barrier, but in all instances that I furnished to Minister Harris these were Irish people,” Naughten said today, Tuesday, May 19.

The Roscommon-Galway TD said that a similar practice occurred in nursing homes. Naughten raised concerns over data protection laws in relation to this practice.

“Those with responsibility for the management of Covid-19 are left in the invidious position of either waiting weeks for the contact tracing system to inform staff of their results or trying to get the information out quickly in order to reduce the spread of the infection,” Naughten argued.

“This cannot be tolerated; results should be provided directly to those tested as soon as they become available,” he insisted.

Naughten continued: “These delays in contacting those tested and following up on their close contacts is dictating how clusters of infection are being managed.

But clearly the reason for the current management of clusters is because of the inordinate delays in providing results through the contact tracing system.

“What seems to be happening is that positive results are prioritised for disclosure and negative results are long-fingered because all results would have been issued to the contact tracing system by the laboratory at the one time,” he observed.

There is no other reason why there would be weeks of a differential between staff in a single facility being informed if they are positive or negative… This failure to get the system right is undermining the heroic efforts by every citizen in the state to stop the spread of this virus,” Naughten argued.