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Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall has expressed serious concern at revelations that the Minister for Health only learned of the unfolding crisis with the contact tracing system on Tuesday night.

Deputy Shortall, who is the party’s spokesperson on Health, said:

“Today’s statement from the Department of Health on the collapse of the testing and tracing system is a very worrying development.

“Public health specialists have warned for over a week that the system was on the verge of being overwhelmed due to rising infection rates. It is difficult to understand how Minister Donnelly only became aware last night of such a major change in operating procedures for contact tracing.

“If this is true, it is an incredible breakdown in communications between the HSE and the Minister.

“It is simply not acceptable to expect people who have tested positive for Covid-19 to adopt a DIY approach to contact tracing, which could potentially result in large numbers of cases going undetected.

“As the entire country prepares to enter into Level 5 restrictions from midnight, this situation will do little to inspire public confidence in the Minister’s management of Covid-19.

“The Health Committee heard this morning that we only have a third of the required public health doctors – none at consultant grade – and were 700 short of the required public health nurses.

“This is the price of failure to fund public health.”

October 21, 2020

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