As we arrive at a point of national crisis in our fight against Covid-19, it is deeply concerning that our contact tracing system is on the verge of collapse, Catherine Murphy TD, co-leader of the Social Democrats, told the Dáil today.

Deputy Murphy said:

“In recent days, Dr Anne Dee, a consultant in public health medicine, warned that regional departments tasked with tracing can no longer cope and that outbreaks of the virus are going to be missed. She is reported as saying that the eight regional departments are now throwing in the towel and giving up on carrying out proper contact tracing. She talked about the urgency of recruiting staff but feared it would be the new year before they are in place.

“As rising Covid-19 rates continue to cause alarm, I find her comments deeply disturbing. It is truly shocking to realise that that the regional public health system is as close to collapse as it has been than at any time before.

“It was up to the Government to ensure that these systems were in place; that they were properly resourced and were functioning. The public will do their bit but it is clear that individual effort is not going to be enough to chase down this virus.

“If we don’t know where the virus is, if we don’t ensure that people are traced and they isolate, how can we contain the spread of Covid-19?

“We need a frank discussion about where the shortcomings in the system are and how they will be addressed. We either find a way to shut down the virus or we will end up shutting down the economy.”

October 8, 2020

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