Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn has said everyone in Kildare, Laois and Offaly needs to pay particular attention if they have any symptoms of Covid-19 and double down on public health measures.

A specific warning has been issued for people living in those three counties, which saw 226 cases over the past 14 days.

That represents 48%, or almost half, of all cases in Ireland over that time period.

Dr Glynn said the cases come on the back of an already significant number of cases and clusters in those three counties.

People aged over 70 in Kildare, Laois, Offaly should take particular care and limit the number of people they are in contact with to a very small extent, he said.

The Department of Health was today notified of five deaths associated with Covid-19 as well as 69 new cases of the virus.

Of those cases 22 are located in Offaly, 19 in Kildare, eight in Laois, six in Dublin, and 14 are spread across eight other counties.

Thirty-nine of today's cases are associated with outbreaks or close contacts of a confirmed case.

Dr Glynn said the outbreaks are currently contained but that the National Public Health Emergency Team is concerned that they could spread into the wider community, especially in Kildare, Laois and Offaly.

A cause for concern, Dr Ronan Glynn said, was that there appears to be some 60 cases notified to NPHET in the three counties which will be reported tomorrow, pending contact tracing.

The Acting Chief Medical Officer said there have been "four significant outbreaks in meat processing type facilities" across counties Kildare and Offaly.

Dr Glynn said two of the outbreaks have been in a dog food factory in Naas in Co Kildare and at a meat processing plant in Tullamore, Co Offaly.

The other two are in meat processing factories in Kildare town and in Timahoe in Co Kildare, he said.

He said the locations of the factories are one thing, but he said clearly the people working in the factories live in a range of places within these counties.

Dr Glynn said there should not be an undue focus on particular locations, as he said "the counties as a whole need to be careful".

Asked if localised lockdowns should be considered in Kildare, Laois and Offaly, Dr Glynn said "with something like this, you can't rule anything out".

He said the situation will be monitored very closely and further guidance will be given tomorrow.

The Acting Chief Medical Officer said there have been "four significant outbreaks in meat processing type facilities" across counties Kildare and Offaly.

To date, he said, there have been around 150 cases in three of those sites.

There have also been a number of clusters in three direct provision centres in the Midlands, which Dr Glynn said now appear to be under control.

He said that NPHET has recommended this week that regular testing of people living in direct provision centres is offered, beginning over the next week or two, but it will not be mandatory testing.

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80 cases at Kildare factory - many asymptomatic

A food factory in Co Kildare has suspended all processing operations following confirmation of 80 Covid-19 cases.

O'Brien Fine Foods in Timahoe said they took the decision to test all of its employees following a confirmed case of the virus on 30 July. The company said this was their third case at the facility at that point.

In a statement, the food company said it engaged with the Health Service Executive and a private testing provider to "expediate" testing.

"Of 243 tests completed, 80 have been confirmed as positive for Covid-19. Of the 80 confirmed, the level of asymptomatic infectivity appears to be very high."

A further 42 employees are to be tested.

The company said that those who have tested positive have been advised to isolate and full risk assessment and contact tracing procedures are under way.

9% of meat factory workers diagnosed with Covid-19 - SIPTU

Unions representing workers from meat factories in the midlands where clusters of the coronavirus have been detected have said all factories must be shut down when cases are confirmed and the workers sent home on full pay.

Greg Ennis, area organiser for SIPTU, said that more than 9% of the workforce in the meat industry had been diagnosed with Covid-19.

He said the situation was extremely serious.

He said union representatives will meet with Meat Industry Ireland on Monday next to discuss what he said was a crisis situation.

He said in recent weeks many factories where the virus was detected did not close down while testing was continuing.

He said it was essential that workers' safety be put first and they were allowed to return home but without their pay and conditions being affected.