Coronavirus: Micheál Martin promises serial testing at meat plants across Ireland

Coronavirus: Micheál Martin promises serial testing at meat plants across Ireland
Pictured is the Carroll Cuisine (Carroll's) meat plant in County Offaly. Photo: Eamonn Farrell / Rollingnews.ie

Serial testing is to be rolled out at meat plants across the country.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin made the announcement after a cabinet subcommittee on Covid19 on Tuesday.

The news comes after three counties were ordered back into restricted movement on Friday after a series of Covid19 outbreaks in meat plants and Direct Provision centres.

"Initially in meat plants weekly, which is particularly important in terms of contact tracing," he said.

"It will be weekly testing initially across the three counties (Kildare, Laois and Offaly) and that will progress across the country, which will progress to fortnightly over time.

"There will be a serial systemic programme of testing in all meat plants across the country along with direct provisions centres, it has seen success in nursing homes and will continue in nursing homes on regular basis.

"The overall capacity is strong in terms of the HSE's testing and tracing capacity.

"At the moment, we are concerned about the spike which occurred in the midlands, overall numbers are up across the country but community transmission remains stable according to the Chief Medical Officer."

The cabinet sub-committee, which met today, will meet again next week for a medium-term plan for the next six months to nine months for the next phase of covid19.

"We've opened up a considerable degree of society and obviously like other countries, we've seen increases in numbers and we have to look and plan ahead for potential scenarios that may emerge while protecting people and keeping community transmission low, that's the ongoing challenge," Mr Martin added.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin TD during a Government Cabinet meeting at Dublin Castle. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Taoiseach Micheal Martin TD during a Government Cabinet meeting at Dublin Castle. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

The Taoiseach says his cabinet has been approached by a number of different representatives from Laois, Kildare and Offaly, in the days since the counties saw greater lockdown restrictions imposed after the outbreaks and ministers will meet again this week to discuss how best to aid business in those counties.

"Our concern, to be frank, is vulnerable groups in congregated settings," he said.

"The initial response is testing and contact tracing, we have to step back and look at the risks congregated settings present.

"We'll be looking at meat plants in general in terms of making sure workers are protected and conditions are assessed, in terms of their capacity to be conducive to the spread of the virus.

"A constant monitoring and overview of the situation.

"What has happened over two months have been concentrated on vulnerable groups, congregated settings and some clusters."

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