Senator Elisha McCallion
Sinn Féin’s Seanad health spokesperson, Senator Elisha McCallion, has said the situation in Derry, Donegal and Tyrone illustrates the need for an all-Ireland response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Senator McCallion said it is “totally irresponsible” that it has taken the government until now to realise that there is an issue with cross-border contract tracing, ahead of a meeting between the North and South’s chief medical officers.
Senator McCallion wrote to health minister, Stephen Donnelly, last week highlighting the lack of communication between the health services in both jurisdictions, with no response received as of yet.
“We are now seven months into this pandemic. The challenges in Donegal, Derry and Tyrone illustrate what Sinn Féin have been saying since the beginning, that we need an all-Ireland response.
“Last week, myself and my colleague in the North, Colm Gildernew, MLA, wrote to health ministers' Stephen Donnelly and Robin Swann over the lack of clarity on protocols for the thousands of people who cross the border every day, including employers and workers, who test positive for Covid-19.
“It is totally irresponsible that it has taken for Donegal to move to Level 3 for action to be taken on this issue.
“Employees and their employers should have been made aware of the exact protocols that should be followed in this situation from the beginning.
“As we all know, this virus does not recognise borders, therefore our strategy must be the suppression of the virus in the workplace on an all-island basis.
“Many people cross the border every single day for essential reasons such as work, family and education, so the only way for us to be able to live with the virus is if we deliver a testing and tracing system on an all-island basis that is fit for purpose.
“I welcome that the chief medical officers from both jurisdictions are meeting today, and I have no doubt that they will have a productive discussion on the matter,” she said.
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