Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture, Food, and the Marine Charlie McConalogue TD has said stringent new measures need to be introduced by the Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in meat factories.

He commented, “The rapid increase in transmission of coronavirus in meat factories is a very serious concern. It is a concern to the health of the employees and to the wider agriculture sector of which meat processing plants play a key role.

“I had previously called for widespread testing of employees in meat processing plants. However, without temporarily shutting plants down while testing for coronavirus is conducted, I don’t see how effective a testing regime in a plant will be. The transmission of the virus will continue as employees are not isolated from colleagues while awaiting the outcome of their test.  

“I also believe we need testing for those sharing households with workers who fall into this test criteria. The State has facilities to provide accommodation for those who cannot safely self-isolate at home, Citywest being the most well-known of them. If this is the case for an effected employee in a meat processing plant, then they should be offered this option.

“Both Ministers Creed and Harris in conjunction with the National Public Health Emergency Team need to draw up a plan which effectively tackles this crisis in our meat processing plants. Maintaining the food supply chain is essential, but so too is the health of employees in meat processing plants as they play an integral role in facilitating this chain.

“Fianna Fáil has been raising this issue for over two months yet confirmed case numbers have risen. We need authorities to visit the factory floors and introduce stringent new measures including deep cleaning of factories, a testing regime which isolates suspected cases, and the provision of an adequate place to self-isolate if the option to do so is not available in a person’s household,” concluded Deputy McConalogue.