Thursday, 21 May 2020
Outbreaks of Covid-19 in Meat Processing Plants: Statements
We need to acknowledge, given that the majority of the workers we are speaking about in meat factories work extensive shifts of eight, ten or 12 hours, that it is contradictory, as Deputy McConalogue noted, that we in the House are, unfortunately, permitted to sit in the Chamber for only two hours in one day. That is a bit contradictory in light of this debate.
We in Fianna Fáil believe we need to look at stringent measures to reduce the transmission of Covid-19 in meat factories and to protect the employees. Despite the efforts of some of the meat factories to introduce new safety measures, it needs to be acknowledged that the number of confirmed cases continues to rise. Will the Minister, Deputy Humphreys, clarify, with up-to-date figures, how many suspected cases there are in meat factories nationally? Of these suspected cases, how many were confirmed Covid cases? How many of these cases led to hospitalisation? Will the Minister also provide this breakdown specific to the Kepak plant in the Watergrasshill area, which she will know is the location of one of the clusters mentioned in the media last week?
Finally, I ask the Minister, Deputy Creed, to give a commitment to the essential workers in our meat plants that in those factories where confirmed cases exist, those facilities will be deep-cleaned for health and safety purposes, and that any suspected case will be tested expeditiously, given the grave situation the workers find themselves in.