Incoherent policy on air travel Covid testing must be addressed

Duncan Smith TD
06 September 2020
  • Random airport testing promised a month ago but not delivered.
  • Now claims that swab PCR test not accurate enough for airport.
  • If Covid test is not good enough, why is it being used by the HSE?

Despite committing weeks ago to random testing at Dublin airport, the Sunday Times now reports that the reason it hasn’t happened is because there are concerns it would produce too many false positives, but Labour Transport spokesperson Duncan Smith said this incoherent policy approach must now be addressed, and the public need to know if government have faith in the swab tests currently being used across the country?

Deputy Smith said:

“For some time now I’ve called for mandatory testing at our airports for visitors arriving from non-Green list countries. The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said over a month ago that there would soon be random testing of arrivals but nothing has happened yet. At the time I said this was window dressing and it appears my concerns have been confirmed.

“The government policy approach to travel and testing is incoherent, and is causing more damage to public confidence. The Minister for Foreign Affairs said in an interview in the Sunday Independent that he wants people to be tested before boarding planes coming to Ireland and dismisses testing of arrivals as it would complicate contact tracing if there is a false positive or negative test.

“If there are some secret concerns about the Covid-19 test we need to be told about it – what exactly is going on here?

“It would seem there are no real plans for Covid-19 testing at our airports, and it appears it won’t go ahead because they are concerned about too many false positive tests according to the Sunday Times. If that is the reality, we should hear the reasoning from either NPHET or the Government. If there are problems with the PCR swab test it would indicate that many of the case numbers published by NPHET each day are wrong. No such evidence has been presented.

“The Minister and the government have now backtracked from the random testing they had conceded when many of us wanted full testing. The report today says they will roll out a different ‘rapid’ test but we’ve no indication if this is accurate enough.

“Other countries have managed to get their airport testing in place so it beggars belief so far into the pandemic that Ireland is so far behind.

“We also have no explanation from the government on why there has been no update to the Green list for over a month. This is just causing more confusion, and adding to the incoherence coming from the government on how we will live with Covid-19 into the future.

“It’s about time the government got their act together. The current mixed messaging simply isn’t good enough. Our airports and those who work there, and rely on them for their incomes need direction. We need leadership from the Government and a roadmap outlining different scenarios in relation to air travel, and a clear policy on testing”

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