Meat Industry Ireland (MII), the Ibec sector that represents the beef, lamb, pigmeat and poultry primary processing sectors in Ireland, says the confirmation of a Covid-19 outbreak in one facility of an MII member, the first such outbreak since late June, acts as a stark reminder of the persistent threat of Covid-19 and the relentless effort and focus that has to be maintained to keep the virus out, protect staff, while also keeping the fresh meat supply chain in operation.
Robust protocols are in place across all plants. These are fully in line with specific Health Service Executive Guidance for Meat Processing and are constantly monitored by the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine which has a permanent presence in the plants, as well as by ongoing Health and Safety Authority inspections.
On Friday, MII engaged with Government departments, the Acting Chief Medical Officer and trade union representatives to further review the protocols in place and look at any additional actions that can be undertaken. Speed of testing results and the track & trace process are critical, as is continuous clear communications with staff around all aspects of dealing with the Covid threat.
It is clear once again from this outbreak, that a very high proportion of positive cases were asymptomatic, meaning that employees, contrary to what has been alleged in some quarters, did not display any of the known symptoms of the virus, were not feeling unwell and were not failing to report symptoms. To suggest otherwise is completely inaccurate.
MII member companies continue to be vigilant in their response to Covid-19, recognising that the interaction between community and workplace poses particular risks that are difficult to control. Member companies will continue to work with the HSE and other agencies and will be guided by their advice.