The suspension of Covid-19 testing at meat plants completely undermines assurances from the Health Service Executive (HSE) that there is capacity in the system to carry out 100,000 tests a week, according to the Social Democrats.

Commenting, Róisín Shortall, co-leader of the Social Democrats, said:

“Public confidence in the government’s test and trace programme will have been further eroded by this latest development.

The HSE has suspended testing at food and meat processing plants due to capacity issues and the need to divert its resources for suspected cases in the community.

“This is proof that the 100,000 weekly testing capacity we were told was in place was more of an aspiration than a reality as the figure has never been achieved.”

Continuing, deputy Shorthall said:

“It seems that from the beginning there were serious problems with getting the testing and tracing up to the scale required.

The lull in the rates over May and June was an opportunity to get this system fully operational, particularly at high-risk settings such as meat plants and direct provision centres.

“We need a test and trace system that is fit for purpose and can allow the HSE to be both proactive and reactive in bringing infection rates down,” the co-leader concluded.