Catherine Murphy TD, co-leader of the Social Democrats, has called on the Government to consider using spare capacity in the testing system to prevent future outbreaks in hospitals and other settings.

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil today, Deputy Murphy said:

“Since the outset of the pandemic, the advice has been that testing is key to containing the spread of Covid-19. We can see every evening in the figures that the number of tests fall as the virus reduces.

“Any spare capacity in the testing system must now be used in settings such as hospitals as part of a preventative strategy.

“We have seen a number of outbreaks in hospitals in Letterkenny, Limerick and Naas. This has posed major operational challenges for the affected hospitals, with many healthcare workers becoming sick and having to isolate.

“We know that the routine swabbing of nursing home staff has helped to control the virus in that setting. The HSE needs to consider putting a similar system in place for hospitals.

“Many people were looking forward to the lifting of Level 5 restriction today, which we all hope can be done safely. While there has been a welcome reduction in Covid-19 numbers, it is fair to say they are not as low as any of us would wish.

“Personal responsibility and people taking sensible precautions will be vital. However, as businesses reopen and families gather for Christmas, it is critical that the Government communicates clear advice and guidance on issues such as the importance of indoor ventilation.

“None of us wants to be facing into a further lockdown in January.”

December 1, 2020

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