Workers in the meat industry have so far shown a positivity rate of 0.41% for Covid-19, according to the Minister for Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue.

The Minister appeared before the Oireacthas Committee on Agriculture and the Marine this evening.

He was expected to confirm that as of last Friday 24,824 samples have been taken under the serial testing programme which is targeting meat processing and food production facilities.

The first phase of the serial testing system is to be completed this week.

More than 1,500 positive cases of the virus were confirmed among workers in the meat industry since the virus began spreading here earlier this year.

However the number of cases and outbreaks in the industry has been decreasing.

Several facilities were closed and the impact saw exports to countries cancelled as a result of the outbreaks.

The meat industry has come in for widespread criticism for not acting fast enough to halt the spread of the virus among the workforce. Internationally, the meat industry has experienced similar outbreaks.

The working conditions appear to aid the spread of the virus and some have claimed the living conditions of the workers, many of whom are foreign nationals, have also been an issue.

SIPTU and Meat Industry Ireland have agreed protocols on how the issue will be managed in primary meat processing plants. 

But there are ongoing calls for a sick pay scheme to be made mandatory for all workers.