Naughten's dismay at suspension of testing in meat plants

The HSE has confirmed it is suspending testing in meat plants and food processing facilities for a week as it shifts focus on testing members of the general public.

The move has been criticised by Roscommon/Galway TD Denis Naughten who said: "We must hunt Covid out of meat plants not chase it from county to county”.

Expressing dismay, Deputy Naughten said: "After completing just about 10% of the serial screening programme within the meat and food processing sector, the HSE has suspended the programme."

“This is despite the fact that if this programme was done during the summer months, when there was ample capacity, it would have avoided the lock downs in Kildare, Laois and Offaly.

“Over four months ago I highlighted serious flaws in the management of Covid-19 infection within the meat industry yet those in authority were more interested in tackling the man than addressing the fundamental problems that were occurring right across the meat processing sector.

“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. Yet rather than deal with the significant Covid-19 risk the focus was on circling the wagons.

“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.