Denis Naughten TD has welcomed confirmation by the HSE that it has established a multi-agency group to look at the current Covid-19 outbreaks in the meat processing industry, following his request at a meeting with HSE management last Wednesday.
“While work is ongoing across the country to address specific clusters of Covid-19 infection associated with meat plants and asylum centres, it was clear from my engagement with communities and public health staff that there was a need for far greater support at national level and I’m thankful to the HSE for acting swiftly on my request,” stated Denis Naughten.
“I asked HSE management to set up a national co-ordination team to deal specifically with this situation and to ensure that staff, particularly non-Irish staff, are given the proper information in person and in documentation in their native language.
“Responding to this Dr Philip Crowley, the HSE’s Acting National Co-Lead Public Health Response to COVID-19 accepted that efforts need to be taken to protect this specific industry and 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. Part of their remit will be to focus on community support in the areas affected.
“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.
“We have seen the impact of the failure to take action in the US where meat processing has ground to a halt, but 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,” concluded Denis Naughten.