Dáil debates

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Covid-19: New Measures: Statements

 

5:17 pm

Photo of Imelda MunsterImelda Munster (Louth, Sinn Fein)

The recent surge in Covid cases has proven that the Government does not have a coherent plan to get us through the surge we are experiencing. There is a range of measures we should be using, including free antigen tests, adequate PCR tests and booster jabs. The feeling in the general public is that the Government is dithering and indecisive and that the result is thousands of daily cases and unsustainable numbers of patients in our hospitals and ICUs. Earlier today, 13 counties had no testing appointments available for today or tomorrow. Apparently five other counties only had one appointment available for those times. This is causing huge stress and is leading to people taking extended leave from work, as well as causing childcare issues and other problems for people. The surge was predicted and now it is here but the infrastructure to deal with it is not there.

In my county of Louth cases are the highest in the country and Drogheda has been particularly badly hit with one in 40 people testing positive in the past fortnight, which is a staggering statistic. I had been calling for a test centre in Drogheda and I asked if even a mobile clinic that would be quick and easy could be provided. We have heard nothing and had no indication from Government that this will happen. I contacted the HSE locally at the start of the week to request a pop-up centre. That would be another simple measure to implement, given the high rate of cases in Drogheda, and the HSE has yet to respond. Where is the sense of urgency when case numbers are through the roof?

As others have said, testing is a shambles at present and no test is available in Louth until Friday at the earliest, despite the fact that case numbers are so frighteningly high. That is unacceptable.

I ask the Minister, Deputy Stephen Donnelly, to give me a commitment that he will pick up the phone to the HSE in Louth and request that it provides a pop-up test centre in Drogheda. It is not too much to ask. It has the highest rate in the country. Will the Minister give me that commitment?

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