Thursday, 21 May 2020
Covid-19 (Health): Statements
Jennifer Murnane O'Connor (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fianna Fail)
I want to ask about information. How much is being spent on information campaigns during the coronavirus crisis? I have to ask if the message is actually getting through. Anyone who passed the canal earlier this week would have seen that it was like a bank holiday weekend. I was contacted last night by a worker on a construction site who said social distancing was not being applied at all. Front-line workers are telling me people are not going to hospitals for fear of the virus. Why is this? Why do people believe our hospitals are somehow unsafe? The suspension of smear tests and other diagnostics have sent the message that if someone has a symptom, he or she is not safe to be tested. There are people at home desperately afraid to contact their GP. Why is this? It is not right. The message should be that anyone who needs healthcare should get it, not because of how much money they have in their wallet or whatever. It is about getting the service. Is it because compared to other countries we have incredibly high rates of the virus among our healthcare workers? We have to get the message through that our staff are protected and our hospitals are safe. Every mistake we make now, we pay for in lost lives and years of repercussions.
I want to ask why there is not a public campaign regarding an illness associated with the coronavirus in children called Kawasaki disease, which can be triggered by Covid-19 in under fives and can be fatal. There are already 100 cases of it in New York and the Italian doctors reported a 30-fold increase in cases. I know lots of things can change in the pandemic but doctors and nurses are aware of this rare disease and there is little information on it. Why? The public needs to know what to look out for so they can get treatment if they need it. This is of huge concern to me. On people with disabilities, as the Minister knows, a few months back there was a 1% decrease in funding for children with disabilities across the board. That has to be reversed. Children with disabilities need to have the funding and we to make sure that we resource the most vulnerable children in our society.