Consultant in Infectious Diseases Professor Paddy Mallon has said meat and food processing plants are one sector of the workforce that are being "disproportionately affected" by Covid-19 and there needs to be a critical look at why this is happening.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sarah McInerney, he said it seems as if companies themselves are taking measures to reduce the risk of infection, but yet it is still happening.

Prof Mallon said sometimes workers are afraid to acknowledge symptoms as they may have to take time off work without pay.

He said Ireland is at a critical point but the continued buy-in from the public is needed to suppress the virus and it is worrying the number who are turning up positive without symptoms.

When asked if there was any risk of infection being passed through the food or packaging from a meat or food processing plant to consumers, he said that risk was overall very low.

Lead Adviser on Covid-19 with the Irish College of General Practitioners Dr Nuala O'Connor said everyone needs to be on high alert for any possible symptoms.

She said a person needs to only have one symptom for a test to be carried out.

"It can be very mild symptoms and where people would often not think of contacting their GP," she said, adding that people must self-isolate and contact the GP who will determine if a test is needed.

Dr O'Connor said indoor, crowded and poorly ventilated spaces should be avoided and everyone needs to be very careful about attending house parties.

She said people also need to make themselves available for a test if they are identified as a close contact.


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'Next 5-10 days will really test' virus strategy

Associate Professor at the School of Biochemistry and Immunology at Trinity College Tomás Ryan has said localised lockdowns are a "less draconian" way of handling surges in Covid-19.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, he said the next five to ten days will really test, for the first time, if our "test, trace, isolation infrastructure" contains the outbreak when it is under a moderate degree of stress.

"I am very concerned because I don't see how it can be fast enough to prevent the pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic transmission of cases into the community.

"So we are going to have to learn a lot over the next week or two."

He said if we have to respond with a "reactive lockdown" it is more desirable to do it on a local level and it is legally possible.

"The Government legislated for this back in March and it can be done on a town or county basis," he said.

Today, the Department of Health was notified of four additional deaths and 98 more cases of Covid-19.

The World Health Organization says data to date suggests 80% of Covid-19 infections are mild or asymptomatic, 15% are severe infection, requiring oxygen and 5% are critical, requiring ventilation.

Generally, you need to be 15 minutes or more in the vicinity of an infected person and within two metres of them, to be considered at-risk, or a close contact.