Ireland has announced a new policy for the testing for Covid-19 among staff working at the country’s meat plants.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said a “serial testing programme” will be rolled out at Ireland’s meat factories after a spate of outbreaks.

The tests will “initially” be held on a weekly basis, Martin said, “with a view to making sure that we can keep the pressure on this virus, identify it, isolate it and deal with it”.

Like a number of countries, Ireland has found meat-processing plants to be a hot spot for clusters of Covid-19 cases.

Three counties in Ireland have seen the imposition of local restrictions on movement after outbreaks, with meat factories, along with direct-provision centres, linked to the clusters of cases. Direct-provision centres are part of a system of accommodation for asylum seekers in Ireland.

Reports in Ireland say that, up to the beginning of July, 1,115 workers in meat factories had contracted the virus.

Earlier this week, meats and ready-meals supplier Carroll Cuisine became the latest Irish food manufacturer to halt operations after staff tested positive.

Carroll Cuisine, majority-owned by private-equity firm The Carlyle Group, has suspended operations at its facility in Tullamore.

The company said its first employee to test positive for the novel coronavirus was on 31 July. Tests carried out by Carroll Cuisine led to a total of nine staff out of 330 being shown to have the infection. Ireland’s Health Service Executive then carried out tests on 212 employees at the Tullamore plant and all came back negative.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University & Medicine, Ireland has had 26,838 confirmed cases of Covid-19. Some 1,774 of those people have died.