Over 2,000 Covid-19 tests done in meat plants since Friday – with 6 positives

Over 2,000 Covid-19 tests have been done in meat plants since last Friday (October 2) with six positive tests as a result.

This is part of the first round of serial testing taking place in meat plants, which is to be completed at the end of this week.

In a statement to AgriLand, the HSE said that as of today (Tuesday, October 6), around 27,000 tests have been done across 80 meat plants and that there have been 107 workers testing positive in total, in this round of serial testing.

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 based on a four-week schedule.

Speaking at the first public meeting of the Committee on Agriculture and the Marine this term, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue said that his department is monitoring conditions in meat plants along with doing research into Covid-19 transmission in these settings.

Issues to do with employees sharing accommodation and transport and a lack of sick pay are also being looked at.

The minister added that findings from the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) Covid-19 inspections carried out in meat plants have shown a high level of compliance and that it is in the interest of meat plants that employees are protected and all appropriate protocols are followed.

In August, the government decided that the Health Service Executive (HSE) should undertake serial testing in meat plants. However, last month, this programme was postponed because of “the increased capacity needed at the moment to deal with people with symptoms”, according to the HSE.

All HSA Inspections Carried Out In September Were Unannounced

Yesterday, AgriLand reported that all of the inspections in meat processing plants by the 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 McConalogue said last month that he would seek these inspections in meat plants be carried out predominantly unannounced.

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