Coronavirus: No additional deaths in State but 68 new cases

Death toll from Covid-19 in the Republic now stands at 1,772 and 26,712 confirmed cases

The National Public Health Emergency Team has said it was ‘almost inevitable’ there had been some level of community transmission around the midlands clusters. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

The National Public Health Emergency Team has said it was ‘almost inevitable’ there had been some level of community transmission around the midlands clusters. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

There have been no new deaths reported to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre on Sunday.

There has now been a total of 1,772 Covid-19 related deaths in Ireland.

As of midnight Saturday August 8th, the centre has been notified of 68 confirmed cases of Covid-19. There is now a total of 26,712 confirmed cases in Ireland.

Meanwhile, repeat blanket testing for Covid-19 is to be provided for the 15,000 meat industry workers, according to Minister for Agriculture Dara Calleary.

Initially, the programme will focus on 2,500 workers in plants in the midlands, where there have been four large outbreaks of the virus.

Mr Calleary said his officials would be meeting the Health Service Executive on Monday to scope out the provision of blanket testing in the sector.

He indicated he would like to see the industry cover the cost of the testing programme.

Defending the Government’s response on the issue, he said Ireland was the first country globally to introduce a protocol on Covid-19 and meat processing plants on May 15th.

There had been 1,100 cases across the plants but this had been reduced “to virtually zero by the end of June”.

Mr Calleary said he wanted to draw on experience internationally in trying to strengthen the protocol and making sure every effort is made to ensure outbreaks do not reoccur.

Benefits are in place for any worker experiencing symptoms of Covid-19, he said.

Blanket testing of workers in the meat industry needs to be introduced immediately, according to the main union representing workers in the sector.

Siptu also says plants where Covid-19 outbreaks occur should immediately shut down without loss of earning for staff.

‘Industry crisis’

Speaking on RTÉ’s This Week programme, Siptu area organiser Greg Ennis called on the Government to lead on the issue and said workers needed a voice.

“We have a serious crisis in this industry where we here 11 per cent testing positive,” he said.

Union representatives are due to meet Meat Industry Ireland on Monday to discuss the mass outbreaks of the virus in several plants.

Meanwhile, a leading public health official has warned the reopening of schools and colleges in the autumn could have been threatened if the restrictions in counties Kildare, Laois and Offaly had not been introduced on Friday.

A “short, sharp intervention could save us a great deal of difficulty in two to three weeks’ time”, said Prof Philip Nolan, chairman of an advisory group to the National Public Health Emergency Team.

He said it was “almost inevitable” there had been some level of community transmission around the midlands clusters. The rate at which the outbreaks developed was “quite unusual”.

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