Covid-19 outbreak at Cork meat plant 

Covid-19 outbreak at Cork meat plant 
Pic; Larry Cummins

A GROUP of workers in the Kepak meat plant in Watergrasshill have tested positive for Covid-19.

The first results from a mass testing by HSE staff at the plant on Monday and Tuesday have started coming back. 

Sources told The Echo that there have been a number of positive tests so far, adding to concern about the prevalence of the disease in meat plants across the country.

It is understood there are more than 650 workers at the factory, with a large immigrant workforce drawn from Brazil and eastern Europe.

The workers primarily live across the northeast Cork area, between Glanmire and Mitchelstown.

In recent weeks, workers in the facility became concerned as the number of cases in meat plants across Ireland began to grow.

It is understood temperature testing has been taking place at the plant in recent weeks.

There have been already been confirmed cases at plants in Tipperary, Westmeath, and Offaly.

Earlier this month, Siptu representatives called for the mandatory temperature testing and the provision of personal protective equipment for workers in meat and dairy processing plants following the confirmation of clusters of Covid-19 infections in a number of facilities.

Fine Gael councillor Noel McCarthy said he is aware of great fear among the workers at the plant. 

He knows a number of people currently waiting the results of tests and says it is a very anxious time for them. 

He believes it is time for meat factories to take action to prevent the spread of the virus further. 

He is also concerned about the spread of the virus in the local community.

A spokesman for Kepak said: “Kepak isn’t commenting currently.”

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has described the number of clusters in meat processing plants as “gravely serious”.

Speaking in the Dáil today, he said: “The situation with meat plants is gravely serious and it is not obvious that these clusters are being dealt with comprehensively. Without calling for the shutting down of the sector, it seems very surprising that the blanket testing of a facility is followed by no interruption of work until the results are returned.”

He said the plants should be closed temporarily so proper cleaning could take place.

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