‘Up to 40%’ of close contacts of meat plant workers with Covid not traced

Harris denies claim from Naughten that only about one-third of those contacts in industry were followed up

Independent TD Denis Naughten has criticised the failure to trace close contacts of all meat plant workers who contracted coronavirus after it was confirmed up to 40 per cent may not have been identified.

Minister for Health Simon Harris said in the Dáil on Thursday evening that between 60 per cent and 70 per cent of close contacts had been traced. He was responding after Mr Naughten claimed that in some cases “only about one third of the close contacts of those who have been identified as positive within the meat industry have been followed up”.

More than 1,000 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in meat processing plants, 123 of them in the past week, with 27 workers hospitalised.

Mr Naughten said it was “completely unacceptable” so many close contacts had not been traced after 1,048 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed.


Contact tracing aims to identify those close to someone confirmed with the disease so they will self-isolate for 14 days to prevent further community transmission.

Mr Harris said his information was that “the amount of contact tracing is much higher than one third and is between at least 60 per cent and 70 cent although there are a number of cases in which there are contact and communications difficulties”.

Mr Naughten said he had raised concerns about meat plants directly with the HSE six weeks ago and was still waiting for answers to very serious question from the Minister and the HSE.

The Minister said he would organise a briefing for Mr Naughten from the chair of the national outbreak team.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times