Newstalk
Newstalk

17.25 21 May 2020


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The Dáil has been hearing from the Government that the coronavirus has been effectively suppressed in the community setting.

Health Minister Simon Harris spoke of progress, with the reproductive rate of the virus remaining low.

"Work by Professor Philip Nolan's team shows that it is between 0.45 and 0.63.

"This means for four weeks in a row, this number has now remained significantly below 1".

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the virus has been effectively suppressed in the community.

But there has been criticism of the Government's measures.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin cited poor communication from the Government on the re-opening of the economy.

"In some cases it's damaging the credibility of the overall restrictions.

"The distinction between hardware stores and homeware stores, in my view, is foolish".

While the chair of the new Dáil Special Committee on COVID-19 Response, Michael McNamara, said non-COVID health services need to get back up and running.

"We've now reached a stage on our roadmap where we can have a McDonald's but we can't have a cancer screening.

"Is that satisfactory to you as minister for health?"

Health Minister Simon Harris replied: "I wouldn't be in any way flippant in relation to this.

"The decision to suspend cancer screening was one taken by clinicians on public health grounds.

"I don't have a responsibility for McDonald's - but I do have a responsibility for the safety of people in our health service, the safety of the staff and the safety of the women and men of Ireland who use it".

Mr Varadkar has also dismissed the suggestion from some prominent economists that the Government should borrow very large amounts of money to pay for the economic recovery, saying no money is free and it would have to be paid back eventually.

Reporting by: Sean Defoe

Main image:  Michael McNamara is seen at Leinster House in 2015. Picture by: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

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