A Galway TD has condemned the HSE for its decision to suspend COVID-19 screening at meat plants due to capacity issues.
The Health Service Executive confirmed in a statement to Sinn Féin on Wednesday that testing at meat plants has been suspended until next week.
This is apparently due to the increased demand for testing nationwide following a recent increase in the number of cases.
Galway-Roscommon TD Denis Naughten expressed dismay at this move, saying “we must hunt Covid out of meat plants not chase it from county to county”.
The HSE has said that while the screening programme is not to resume until next week, if there is an outbreak in a plant, then mass testing will still occur.
Meat plants have proven to be a significant flashpoint of COVID-19 clusters, and increased testing at these locations was brought in last month after several factories were part of a spike in cases the led to the reintroduction of lockdown restrictions in Kildare, Offaly, and Laois.
“The risk posed within the sector arose due to the close quarters within which people work and live, the atmosphere for survival and transmission of the virus and the large number of asymptomatic positive cases.”
The Independent TD went on to accuse the people in a position of authority surrounding this issue of “circling the wagons” instead of dealing with the problem.
He said that just 10% of the screening programme was completed prior to this freeze in testing, adding that there would have been “ample capacity” if this had taken place in the summer months, potentially avoiding the need for those county lockdowns.
“While we must ensure that all those referred for a Covid test receive it in a timely manner, unless we concentrate on potential reservoirs of infection in the food industry, we will never be able to manage it,” concluded Denis Naughten.