The meat industry and unions are to be called to address the Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid-19 Response about the large number of cases of the virus in the meat sector.

There are now 1,054 confirmed cases of the virus in meat plants and last week more than 30% of confirmed cases of Covid-19 originated in meat plants.

Last night, Meat Industry Ireland, which represents meat processors, as well as the Migrant Rights Centre and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions were contacted by the Covid-19 response committee.

They have been asked to make written submissions in preparation for an appearance before the group.

The industry has been asked to address the protocols in place to help curb the spread of the virus. They have also been asked to address the living arrangements of staff working in meat plants.

A largely migrant workforce, there are concerns that crowded living conditions could be a factor in the large number of cases in the sector.

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Twenty meat plants have had outbreaks, 15 are currently under active investigation and 27 workers have been admitted to hospital with the virus.

The meat industry insists it is doing everything it can to deal with the virus and State agencies have said employers have been compliant.

But the number of cases in meat plants has grown and there is significant concern that despite assurances the sector is struggling to control the virus.