A programme of serial testing at meat plants and direct provision centres has been agreed by a Cabinet sub committee on Covid-19.
It heard updates from acting chief medical officer and the Health Minister on the prevalence of the virus nationwide and in particular the three midland counties recently subjected to a partial lockdown.
The committee will meet again next week, where work will begin on a medium-term plan to keep the economy as open as possible while keeping community transmission low.
Taoiseach Michéal Martin says the testing system will be rolled out across Laois, Kildare and Offaly before it is introduction nationwide:
“The introduction of the serial testing programme for our meat factories and our direct provision centres.
“This is somewhat similar to what has occurred in nursing homes in the last two months.
“The serial testing programme will initially be weekly with a view to make sure we can keep the pressure on this virus. We need to identity it, isolate it and deal with it.
An upsurge in cases that triggered localised restrictions in Kildare, Offaly and Laois have been linked to outbreaks among staff at meat processing sites and people living in direct provision accommodation.
The new coronavirus plan will outline how the state will respond to further localised spikes or a second wave of Covid-19.
It will succeed the current road map to recovery that has plotted Ireland’s path out of lockdown in several phases.
The medium-term plan, which will cover the next six to nine months, was discussed at a meeting of the Cabinet sub-committee on Covid-19 on Tuesday.
Afterwards Mr Martin, who chairs the committee, said while the number of new cases was up across the country, the incidences of community transmission remained stable.