The Sinn Féin leader has said the Government’s failure to hit its target of 100,000 coronavirus tests per week is “disgraceful.”
Mary Lou McDonald was speaking after the Government launched its new five-level ‘Living with COVID’ plan.
The entire country placed on Level Two of the plan; however, Dublin is facing several extra restrictions with pubs that don’t serve food forced to remain shut and gatherings limited to people from two households.
Testing and tracing
On The Hard Shoulder this evening, Deputy McDonald said the Government is “making it up as they go along.”
“For me, the big, big flaw in all of this has been the absolute failure of Government to deliver prompt, testing and tracing,” she said.
“The World Health Organisation (WHO) from day one, page one, told us that the essence of a strong response to this virus is to test, to trace and to isolate.
“So, we have known from the word go that that building up capacity is the key to keeping people safe, to protecting public health and also to reopening business, getting our children back at school and keeping them in school safely.
“Here we are, months after we were promised there would be 100,000 tests a [week], and we are not close to that yet. I think that is disgraceful. I really think that is disgraceful.”
Living with COVID plan
The Sinn Féin leader said that, if she was Taoiseach, she would not present a 60-page plan to makes only a “passing reference to testing and tracing.”
“We were told by the Government of the time, Leo Varadkar, Simon Harris, all of them told us, we will be testing 100,000 every week and that’s it,” she said.
“The truth is that we should be at that point now and looking to test even more. Denmark for example, a country of a similar scale, a similar population, tested recently about 200,000.
“Chasing the virus, finding the virus, isolating it, is the very essence of a good public health response to keep us safe but also to ensure that people can actually get the treatments they need, that we can have cancer screening, that our kids can go to school safely and that our businesses, including pubs or wet pubs as they are called, that they can reopen.
“But in the absence of that capacity, I fear that that we are going to spend the autumn and the winter yoyoing from the midlands to Dublin between additional restrictions and lockdowns even.
“That is just so disruptive to people’s lives and has to be a matter of last resort.”
She said she is “really, really concerned” about the high level of cases in parts of Dublin.
“I think if that is the case and if the city is in that kind of trouble, then we need Government to be absolutely straight with us. They shouldn’t be waffling or misleading people.
“But above all else, whatever about having to take tough medicine in the short term, I think all of us in Dublin or anywhere else have to have the reassurance that if we are going to do the necessary things, the Government has the infrastructure in place.
“Whatever about going through one episode of restrictions, it is unacceptable that we would yoyo in and out of these things.
“It has to be now the Government’s primary number one challenge to get the testing and tracing capacities right up there.”