Living conditions of migrant workers at meat plants ‘should be considered before criticism’

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CONCERNS HAVE BEEN raised about criticism of migrant workers at meat plants who are not able to adhere to social distancing guidance at home due to their sometimes cramped living arrangements. 

There have been 15 clusters of infection and almost 700 cases of Covid-19 in meat processing plants across the country.

At Sunday’s HSE weekly Briefing, Chief Operations Officer Anne O’Connor said that a regional multi-agency outbreak control team for each of the 15 clusters in meat processing plants has been set up. O’Connor said interim guidance was issued to prevent further spread of Covid-19 in these plants on Friday.

She also said the HSE has been carrying out testing sweeps in some plants, taking samples from all workers.

Fiona Finn, CEO of Nasc, the migrant and refugee rights centre, said these circumstances should be considered “before we criticise people for not obeying the rules”.

“We already know that Covid-19 has hit the people with the lowest incomes in our society the hardest; they find it the most difficult to social-distance or self-isolate. They are more likely to be living in multi-occupancy houses and sharing cramped bedrooms with non-relatives,” she said.

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