Ireland has seen the number of positive Covid-19 cases within its meat processing plants top 500.

Answering a request from just-food, the Irish Department of Health said as of today (13 May) there have been 12 Covid-19 “clusters” in meat processing plants notified to public health officials. 

It said there are 571 confirmed cases of Covid-19 linked to these outbreaks and 12 of those affected have been hospitalised.

Earlier this month, Ireland’s Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said the country’s government was aware of “six clusters” of Covid-19 in meat factories.

Rosderra Irish Meats Group, one of Ireland’s major pork processors, had confirmed positive cases of the novel coronavirus among staff.

Beef and lamb major Dawn Meats, meanwhile, reportedly stopped operations at a site in Kilbeggan in central Ireland after four workers tested positive.

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The 500-plus cases amount to a hefty percentage of the European total of cases linked to meat plants.

News agency Bloomberg has estimated that “more than 1,000” workers at European slaughterhouses have contracted Covid-19.

Yesterday (12 May), it was announced that Westfleisch, one of Germany’s largest meat processors, had closed its plant at Coesfield, near the western German city of Munster on 8 May, following a Covid-19 outbreak amongst its workforce.

Bloomberg reports that German peer Vion also closed a slaughterhouse in Bad Bramstedt this month after about a third of workers were found to be infected.