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Agriculture minister to face Dail questions over virus clusters in meat plants

Siptu has said around 600 workers at meat processing plants have now contracted Covid-19.

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Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed (PA)

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed (PA)

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed (PA)

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed is to appear before the Dail next week to face questions about an increase in cases of Covid-19 at meat processing plants.

The Siptu union has said around 600 workers at meat processing plants have now contracted the virus.

Independent TD Denis Naughten said Mr Creed is being called to explain how several meat processors across the country have seen a large proportion of their employees contract Covid-19.

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(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

Press Association Images

(PA Graphics)

Speaking in the Dail on Thursday, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has described the number of coronavirus clusters in meat processing plants as “gravely serious”.

He said: “The situation with meat plants is gravely serious and it is not obvious that these clusters are being dealt with comprehensively.

“Without calling for the shutting down of the sector, it seems very surprising that the blanket testing of a facility is followed by no interruption of work until the results are returned.”

More needs to be done on this issue. Health authorities need to visit factory floors to see the realityMicheal Martin, Fianna Fail

Mr Naughten said there are clusters of infection surrounding meat plants “where the levels of infection within the plants themselves is up on one third or, in some instances, half of the workforce”.

“And yet despite this, the Minister for Agriculture assured me in the Dail just two weeks ago that he was satisfied from the feedback from his officials in meat plants that everything was being done to minimise the spread on this infection.”

Mr Naughten said staff did not self-isolate in the period between being tested and the results being returned, which seriously undermines the validity of the negative results.

He called on Health Minister Simon Harris to ensure that all such employees are now retested and given results in a timely manner.

PA