Dr Ronan Glynn has appealed to those living in Kildare, Laois and Offaly to adhere to local lockdown measures over concerns that there is belief that the virus is only affecting areas near meat plants.
The counties have been under local lockdowns since the weekend, with cases recorded across the three counties as far west as Birr in Offaly and down to Abbeyleix in Laois over the past two weeks.
I think there may be a misperception out there that all of the cases are located very close to where the processing facilities are located.
Dr Glynn says there is a myth emerging of cases only occurring close to meat factories: “I think there may be a misperception out there that all of the cases are located very close to where the processing facilities are located.
“We can see that that’s not the case, and so I just want to use this as an opportunity to remind people across the counties, people work in a particular place, but they live and socialise and meet people in communities and towns and villages all across those counties.”
It comes as representatives from Meat Industry Ireland, the Department of Agriculture, the HSA and trade unions are due to meet later before the special Oireachtas committee on Covid-19.
The ongoing issues within the facilities following outbreaks in the past couple of weeks are set to be discussed.
The chair of the Covid-19 committee Michael McNamara has said that if gardaí can provide details about pub inspections, then the HSA can do it for meat plants.
Mr McNamara expects sick pay for workers in meat plants to be on the agenda: “It needs to be applied in nursing homes, I think it will be important in schools when they go back in September, and in all sorts of employment settings.
“The state statutory sick pay doesn’t kick in for the first couple of days when you’re sick, so that is essentially a deterrent for people who may be feeling unwell but don’t want to take a day off work.”