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o brien foods

Kildare factory confirms 80 Covid-19 cases among employees, suspends operations immediately

Of 243 tests completed, 80 employees have been confirmed as positive for Covid-19.

O’BRIEN FINE FOODS in Co Kildare has confirmed that 80 of its employees have tested positive for Covid-19 and that it is suspending all operations at its Timahoe facility. 

The company said that in recent days an employee presented with Covid-19 symptoms.

In line with its procedures, it immediately isolated the employee and initiated a test. Results received on 30 July confirmed that the person had tested positive.

The company engaged with the HSE and said it took what it believed was “the most responsible decision to test all employees which was coordinated by the HSE and a private provider to expedite testing.”

Of 243 tests completed, 80 employees have been confirmed as positive for Covid-19.

Of the 80 confirmed, the level of asymptomatic infectivity appears to be very high, the company said.

“We are completing testing of a further 42 employees today,” it said in a statement.  

People who have tested positive have been advised to isolate and a full risk assessment and contract tracing procedures are underway, the company said.

“All close contacts of those affected are being notified, advised to self-isolate and to contact their GP.”

“We continue to assist, protect and support our team whom we engage with on a daily and regular basis and we maintain active engagement with customers and suppliers. We thank them for their understanding and support,” the statement said.  

“The decision to suspend all processing operations is a precautionary measure. Following consultation with the HSE, our warehousing facility will operate at minimum staffing and capacity levels.

“A further comprehensive deep clean of the facility is underway and a full risk assessment process has commenced in the interest of employee and public health. We will continue to follow public health advice and take every necessary action to comprehensively address the risk, in cooperation with the HSE and Department of Health. 

The company said that given its level of “rigour and our comparatively low level of confirmed cases up to this point, this sudden spike is difficult to comprehend.”

Earlier this evening, health officials made an appeal to people in Laois, Kildare and Offaly to take particular caution following a “significant number of cases” in the region. 

While not suggesting that the National Public Health Emergency team was recommending new restrictions in those counties, Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn did not rule out some form of targeted approach in the future. 

Glynn, speaking at the Department of Health briefing this evening, appealed to people living in the three counties to follow public health advice and remain cautious.  

He asked people to pay “particular attention” to any new Covid-19-like symptoms and called on anyone who is a close contact of a confirmed case to avail of a test. 

“Everyone needs to double down their efforts,” he said, adding he is “not going to prejudge further information we get on these cases this evening and tomorrow.”

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