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Kildare meat plant suspends work for two weeks after surge in Covid-19 cases

Some 87 workers at O’Brien’s at Timahoe had tested positive for the virus by Friday.

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A meat processing plant in Co Kildare has announced it will remain closed for two weeks amid a spike of cases in the county (Niall Carson/PA)

A meat processing plant in Co Kildare has announced it will remain closed for two weeks amid a spike of cases in the county (Niall Carson/PA)

A meat processing plant in Co Kildare has announced it will remain closed for two weeks amid a spike of cases in the county (Niall Carson/PA)

A meat processing plant in Co Kildare is to remain closed for two weeks.

O’Brien’s Fine Foods at Timahoe halted production last week after dozens of workers tested positive for coronavirus.

It was announced on Friday night that Kildare, along with counties Laois and Offaly, will face further lockdown restrictions for the next fortnight following a spate of cases.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has said he believes meat plants affected by the outbreak should not reopen on Monday.

We wish to thank our team, the community of Timahoe, our customers and suppliers for their support and understanding. This sudden spike is difficult to comprehend for all of usO'Brien's Fine Foods

He told RTE it is his personal view that it would be inappropriate for these factories to operate while other people are asked to restrict their movements.

In a statement on Sunday morning, O’Briens Fine Foods said it wished to reaffirm that in line with public health guidance, normal operations at its Timahoe plant will not resume for the 14-day incubation period.

It stopped production on Wednesday night after a number of workers tested positive.

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The statement said: “In consultation with the HSE, our warehousing facility and minimal related operations will function at significantly reduced capacity levels to manage perishable goods.

“In line with public health guidance, in addition to testing undertaken to date, a further programme of employee testing will be conducted on days seven and 14 (as necessary). Only those employees who test negative and meet public health guidelines in full will return to work. All staff will continue to be paid in full.”

Some 87 workers had tested positive for the virus by Friday.

The company said: “In all cases, the level of asymptomatic infectivity appears to be very high.

“Those who have tested positive have been advised to isolate as per the official guidance. Full risk assessment and contract tracing procedures is continuing. All close contacts of those affected are being notified, advised to self-isolate and to contact their GP.

“We wish to thank our team, the community of Timahoe, our customers and suppliers for their support and understanding. This sudden spike is difficult to comprehend for all of us.”

One further death with Covid-19 in Ireland and 174 new cases were reported by the Department of Health on Saturday.

Of the latest cases, the majority (110) are located in Kildare, followed by Dublin (seven), Cork (seven), Offaly (seven) and Meath (six).

Acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn described Saturday’s figures as “high, but not unexpected”, with further testing under way.

“We are expecting significant numbers of cases to be reported over the coming days,” he added.

Professor Philip Nolan, chair of the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, described the 14-day incidence per 100,000 population in Kildare, Laois and Offaly as “worryingly high”.

He said: “While the national incidence stands at 16.3 per 100,000, in Kildare it stands at 130.3, in Laois it is 69.7 and in Offaly it is 89.8.”


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