Thursday, 15 October 2020
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
Five months ago, I stood in the House and asked the Minister at the time for a roadmap on testing. My understanding was that in June, as we began to open up the country, the system of testing, tracing and isolating would begin in earnest and every person who needed to be tested for Covid-19 would be tested. I understood that was how Government was going to contain the virus while being able to keep the country open.
To me, test, trace and isolate means that positive test cases would and should be isolated. Then, their contacts would be traced immediately, tested and isolated and so on. Where that system is operated effectively, we can contain the virus. We test, trace and isolate. Yet, the information I have today is that in three and a half months the Government system has failed miserably. The virus has spiralled out of control. If we are to be truthful about the real reason it has spiralled out of control, it is that the Government failed to put a system in place to do contact tracing when the numbers were low. When we had cases of 70 and 80 per day, there was no effective contact tracing. As a result, we have seen the numbers spiral to multiples of that in every county. It has spiralled out of control. That is why we have a resurgence. It is a total systems failure in contact tracing.
The Government's inability to put in place the most basic elementary and logistical solution in contact tracing is the real reason that we are moving to level 4. Maybe not as many people would need the pandemic unemployment payment if we had an effective contact tracing system in place. Why has the Government system failed us with regard to contact tracing?