Rise in coronavirus cases in Irish meat industry

By Aidan Fortune

- Last updated on GMT

Rise in coronavirus cases in Irish meat industry

Related tags Ireland coronavirus Meat Industry Ireland Processing and packaging Innovation Processing equipment & plant design

Trade body for the Irish meat processing sector Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has expressed disappointment at the large number of confirmed cases of coronavirus among workers.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) reported 828 positive cases of the virus in the sector over the past two months.

In a statement, MII said it is “disappointing that despite the range of measures put in place to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, the number of cases reported by the HSE has continued to rise”.

MII data shows that almost 60% of affected workers have already recovered as per the HSE isolation protocols and others who were detected more recently continue to complete their self-isolation periods and recovery.

Cormac Healy, senior director of Meat Industry Ireland said: “MII members do not underestimate the challenge Covid-19 poses and acted quickly and comprehensively to address the situation over two months ago. Whilst there have been a significant number of positive Covid-19 cases in some plants, it is important to recognise that many plants have had either no, or low numbers, of cases. Thankfully, a large number of affected people have now recovered, and more recently detected positives continue to complete their self-isolation periods and recovery.

“This is cause for encouragement but not complacency and our aim is to take all the appropriate measures we can to minimise the chances of more cases developing. We welcome the HSE guidance note which will assist MII members as they continue to manage the ongoing situation.”

The cases were clustered at meat plants around the country, prompting workers’ union Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU) to call for a taskforce​ for the meat industry to investigate the spread of the virus. The Minister for Agriculture, along with the Minister for Health and the Minister for Business, Enterprise & Innovation, is set to appear before the Dáil to answer questions about the spread of the virus in processing plants.

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