Walsh Mushrooms in Golden, Co Tipperary, has confirmed that a number of its staff have tested positive for coronavirus.
Operations have been suspended after a member of staff was diagnosed with COVID-19 while in self-isolation. Subsequent testing of close contacts has resulted in further positive cases, the company said.
Tipperary TD Michael Lowry said in a statement he could confirm that another 19 close-contact workers have been tested and 10 of these have also tested positive.
“The number of cases of COVID-19 in Tipperary unfortunately will increase considerably following 10 additional confirmed cases in Golden. However, this increase will not be reflected until tomorrow [Saturday],” Lowry said.
Walsh Mushrooms said it was the first incidence of COVID-19 up to this point and it was working with the HSE and all relevant authorities assisting in contact tracing and testing of all staff.
“We will use the opportunity to deep clean the plant during the temporary closure. Essential maintenance will continue at the facility. The safety, well-being and protection of our employees, their families and the local community is our number one priority,” the company said.
The HSE and the Defence Forces were constructing a temporary testing facility on Friday evening at Golden Church. According to Lowry, this was so that all remaining workers in the factory could be tested over the next 24 to 48 hours.
Walsh Mushrooms Group is the second-largest mushroom supplier to the UK market, with operations in Ireland and the UK in compost manufacture, mushroom growing, marketing and distribution.
The group currently markets over 26,000t of mushrooms per annum, accounting for over 15% of the total UK mushroom market.
Walsh Mushrooms Group acquired the business and assets of Golden Mushrooms in January 2017. Golden Mushrooms was originally founded by Michael and Marian Bergin and began operating outside the village of Golden in Co Tipperary in 1998.