By Ellen O’Riordan & James Fogarty
The HSE wrote to all staff at the Kepak meat plant in Athleague back in April informing them that it had become aware of “a number” of Covid-19 cases at the plant.
The HSE in its letter, dated April 21st (seen by the Roscommon Herald), warned that controlling the spread of the disease was of “vital importance to protect individuals and their families from the disease and from the serious complications and deaths that we hear about in the news every day.”
It also stressed that anyone who was ill with the virus or suspected they had the virus “must stay at home and self-isolate”.
The HSE also advised that it was working with Kepak to reduce the spread of this infection and “make sure that all in Kepak and in the wider community can bring this virus under control”.
The news came as the Roscommon Herald learned that 320 staff at the plant were tested for the virus last week. The Roscommon Herald also understands that a large number of cases have come back positive. Queried by the Roscommon Herald, Kepak stated that the factory “as a member of Meat Industry Ireland, is working on a sectoral basis with DAFM and the HSE”.
In the HSE letter, Kepak staff who had confirmed cases of Coronavirus were told to restrict their movements and self-isolate.
The HSE also advised Kepak staff that if they shared “a home with someone who is working in healthcare or social care please be careful to help stop them spreading it to the patients or residents where they work”.
In a separate letter to all Kepak employees, (again seen by the Roscommon Herald), not just at the Athleague plant, Kepak noted that it had been brought to its attention “by local Gardai that a small number of our employees are not adhering to social distancing outside of the workplace and have not been properly self isolating when required to do so in accordance with the guidelines. We have also heard that some employees have been arranging large parties at weekends, which is not allowed and unacceptable. This is very disappointing and a failure to comply with the rules around Coronavirus will result in unnecessary spread of the virus among your family, friends and in the community in which you live.”
The letter concluded: “We understand that this is a very small percentage of our employees and that most of our employees are doing their best to follow all of the rules to help prevent the spread of the virus.”
The Roscommon Herald also understands that many employees at the Athleague plant took exception to the suggestion in the letter to all the group’s employees nationwide that some of them were not adhering to the social-distancing guidelines.