HSE sets up team to examine Covid-19 outbreaks in meat plants

Galway daily news Galway TD condemns pause in COVID-19 screening at meat plants

The HSE has established a taskforce to examine the current Covid-19 outbreaks in the meat processing industry following a request by a Galway TD.

Galway-Roscommon TD Denis Naughten said that while work has been ongoing to address Covid-19 outbreaks at direct provision centres and meat plants, greater support was needed.

He asked the HSE to set up a national coordination team to deal specifically with this issued following a meeting with management last Wednesday.

Dr Philip Crowley, the HSE’s Acting National Co-Lead Public Health Response to Covid-19 acknowledged that it is more difficult to provide for social distancing in such facilities.

“He has now followed up on this by confirming to me that the HSE has established a multi-agency group to look at the meat processing industry and the current outbreaks,” Denis Naughten said.

“We have seen the impact of the delay in reacting to Covid infections in nursing homes and I now welcome the more pro-active approach being taken to ensure that we do not have a similar story in our meat processing facilities or asylum centres across the country.”

Looking across the Atlantic, where repeated outbreaks at meat processing plants have forced many to close, Naughten warned that there would be worse than an economic effect if this happened in Ireland.

“This would have a far bigger impact in Ireland where it could lead to a second wave of Covid-19 infections in communities where there has been a low level of infection to date”