Coronavirus: Two meat plants confirm positive tests among workers

Two meat processing plants have now confirmed that some staff members have tested positive for Covid-19.
Coronavirus: Two meat plants confirm positive tests among workers

Two meat processing plants have now confirmed that some staff members have tested positive for Covid-19.

It comes after agriculture minister Michael Creed confirmed on Thursday that his department was aware of six virus clusters in the industry - five in processing plants and one in a deboning plant.

Rosderra Meats confirmed that all of its staff at its Roscrea processing plant had been tested for Covid-19 and that "a number of employees had a positive result from that testing and they are self-isolating per HSE protocols".

The company said that it has "implemented stringent and detailed control measures" to ensure the safety of its staff and Department of Agriculture staff on site, which is still operational.

"We have reconfigured the process with the remaining staff who have been tested and are clear of Covid- 19 and are continuing with a scaled down process in the short-term until the staff return. We expect those staff will be returning over the next number of weeks having adhered to HSE protocols.

"We will remain vigilant and continue to maintain our robust procedures while Covid-19 remains an issue within Ireland," said a statement.

Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley claimed in the Dáil on Thursday that some 120 staff at the plant returned positive tests. However, Rosderra Meats has declined to offer a figure.

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The company said the cases reflect less than 2% of its total workforce and that the decision was taken "out of an abundance of caution".

In a statement, it said that no production was scheduled on Friday or over the Bank Holiday Weekend and that no decision has yet been taken with regards to deferring any scheduled activity next week.

Meat Industry Ireland (MII) said meat processors have prioritised the safety and wellbeing of staff, farmer suppliers and service providers by implementing "a wide range of protective measures and protocols at each of their sites" in line with government advice and guidelines.

Trade union SIPTU has called for mandatory temperature testing and the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for all workers in meat and dairy processing plants following the confirmation of clusters in the sector.

SIPTU manufacturing division organiser Greg Ennis said that, without such measures, the entire sector was under threat.

“Failure to do so will put further workers, their families and the wider community at risk. Action must be taken if we are to avert the possibility of the closure of the entire meat and dairy processing industry due to the threat of Covid-19," he said.

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