The Labour Party leader has said the leak of the latest coronavirus advice to Government last night was “actually scandalous.”
It emerged yesterday evening that the National Public Health Emergency Tam had recommended a jump to Level Five Coronavirus restrictions.
The reports took Government completely unawares and Cabinet is expected to reject the advice at its meeting this evening.
On The Hard Shoulder, Labour leader Alan Kelly criticised the NPHET leak.
“There is an issue here as to how this happened,” he said.
“NPHET all of a sudden called a meeting, as I understand it, had their discussion and then this leaked out to the media.
“That is no way to be doing this. This affects everybody in the whole country. It affects my eight-year-old who was upset last night because he didn’t know if his communion was going to go ahead.
“It affects all the businesses around the country and employees who don’t know if they are going to have jobs at the end of the week.”
“That is not the way to do business. It is absolutely immoral and wrong what happened. We can’t, as a country, go on like this. We just can’t do that. So, there is a credibility issue here. There is an issue as regards process and communications.”
Deputy Kelly noted that just last week, NPHET decided against recommending a national move to Level Three and questioned what changed so dramatically over the weekend.
“I have to say that NPHET endorsed the COVID roadmap that we are all familiar with. If we are going to have a COVID roadmap, we should follow it.
“There are gears in that roadmap. When things are going the wrong way, we move up a level and when things were going right, we would go down.
“That was there for a reason and the idea that within three days everything could change so dramatically that the whole country goes into lockdown was very hard to comprehend or understand so, based on what I am hearing today, it is probably more proportionate but we obviously have to see what the full decision is later on.”
He said Cabinet’s rejection of this latest advice marks a “seismic moment” in the fight against the virus, noting that this is the first time politicians have acted against public health advice in such a big way.
The Labour leader also called on the State to purchase private hospitals in a bid to increase the intensive care capacity in the health service.
“If it is a choice between locking down the country at some point in the coming months or worrying about ICU capacity, I think it would be a lot more cost-effective to actually go and purchase some of the private hospitals,” he said.
“Which is worse? Worrying about ICU capacity and having to close down the economy in parts or actually spend this money and keep the economy open?
“For me, it is a no-brainer. We need the capacity anyway. There are over 100 beds there so it would give greater capacity and provide insurance to the HSE who actually need it.”
He said it would cost a “few hundred million Euros” to purchase the required private hospital capacity.