Following the mass testing of meat plant staff at a number of facilities for Covid-19, 13 individuals had to be retested due to issues that arose in processing their test samples.

This was revealed by Joan Gallagher, a programme manager for the Health Service Executive (HSE), in a communications to independent Roscommon-Galway TD Denis Naughten.

A parliamentary question from Naughten to Minister for Health Simon Harris was referred to Gallagher, who confirmed that 11 of the individuals were retested due to having been ‘not tested’, while two were retested as their results were ‘invalid’.

In this context, ‘not tested’ refers to a problem occurring with the swab on the way to a laboratory and it therefore could not be processed. This includes labelling errors. ‘Invalid’ means that the sample arrived at the laboratory and was tested, but there was no reaction to it.

Two of the 13 individuals (presumably the two whose tests were ‘invalid’) were retested through the different method of antibody testing, while the remaining 11 were retested via swabs, with an average time to retest of 16 days.

Contact tracing

In a related issue, deputy Naughten has this week again voiced his concerns on contact tracing among meat plant staff, following communication between himself and Minister Harris.

“Neither the HSE nor the Minister for Health are prepared to provide the actual numbers of people contact traced and tested as a result of being in proximity of meat plant employees who tested positive for Covid-19,” the TD remarked.

Naughten argued that: “In recent weeks, the HSE has been playing with words rather than giving straight answers as to the contact tracing of meat plant workers and those in close contact with them.”