Reminder: 11.30am Labour to launch motion on National Aggressive Suppression Strategy on Covid-19

Labour Trade Unionists
08 February 2021

Labour Party Leader Alan Kelly and Finance spokesperson Ged Nash will today Tuesday 9th February at 11.30am on the Leinster House plinth, launch our motion calling for a National Aggressive Suppression Strategy on Covid-19. This will be debated in the Dáil on Wednesday morning in private members time.

The motion, appended below, outlines a comprehensive list of measures the Labour Party is calling on the government to implement as part of a ‘Zero Covid’ approach to suppress the virus.

What: Doorstep with Alan Kelly TD and Ged Nash TD

Where: Leinster House plinth, Kildare St.

When: 11.30am, Tuesday 9th February.

ENDS

Motion re: Covid-19 National Aggressive Suppression Strategy

Dáil Éireann:

notes that –

– the Government “Action Plan in Response to Covid-19” was published in March 2020 and outlined proposed public health decisions and actions with the stated purpose of containing, delaying and mitigating the spread of the virus;

– by 4 February 2021, 3,586 people have died with Covid-19 in the State, with another 1,899 having died in Northern Ireland;

– case numbers are over 200,000 in the State and 105,000 in Northern Ireland, more than 4% of the island’s population;

– the island has experienced three waves of infection with the most recent, post-Christmas, wave being the highest in terms of overall infection and mortality and imposing the greatest pressure on the health service;

– our hospitals have struggled greatly to deal with the third wave of the pandemic with over 2,000 Covid-19 patients in hospital at a point in late January;

– the economy has been shut down three times, for almost 6 months over the past 10 months, and the movements of people have been severely restricted;

– the Government’s ‘Resilience and Recovery 2020-2011: Plan for Living with Covid-19’ published in September 2020 has failed to cope with the most recent wave of infection and the emergence of more transmissible and lethal variants of the virus;

– Ireland has an open border with Northern Ireland that should not be sealed, and essential travel must be allowed to continue on our island;

further notes that –

– repeated surges in Covid19-infections and deaths and repeated lockdowns now demonstrate the failure of a strategy of containment, delay and mitigation;

– vaccination alone is not a ‘silver bullet’ solution in the short to medium term and will not by itself rule out the need for further lockdowns;

– a comprehensive strategy to eliminate community transmission of COVID-19 in Ireland, also known as a ‘Zero-COVID’ approach, which has been recommended by the Independent Scientific Advisory Group (ISAG), is now urgently required;

– new variants, due to mutation of the virus, present a significant risk and that it is therefore vital to take fullest advantage of our island status, and to significantly restrict all movement onto the island, or, in the absence of an all-island strategy, into the State;

– women are disproportionately bearing the burden from the pandemic, as has been laid out by the COVID women’s voices group;

calls on the Government to:

– adopt a National Aggressive Suppression Strategy (NASS) for Covid-19, with the aim of eradicating community transmission and getting overall case numbers down to double digits, and then using aggressive testing and tracing against any outbreaks;

– prevent travellers from boarding aircraft or boats bound for Ireland in the absence of a negative PCR test;

– introduce mandatory hotel quarantine for all travellers by sea and air into the State, with the exception of designated essential and logistics workers, with PCR testing at arrivals and a follow-up test after 5 days;

– adequately resource the testing and tracing system to increase capacity for contact tracing;

– develop with the Northern Ireland authorities a fully integrated cross-border contact tracing system;

– increase permanent capacity in our public hospitals including by nationalising private hospital capacity where necessary as called for by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation;

– target areas of significant risk of Covid-19 outbreaks for serial testing, including healthcare settings and other workplaces where a higher risk of infection exists;

– implement rapid antigen testing in congregated settings where appropriate;

– roll out rapid antigen testing in the community including in our schools when they reopen, and serial PCR testing in healthcare facilities to control outbreaks

– ensure that only genuinely essential employees are compelled to work outside the home by empowering the Health and Safety Authority to survey and inspect workplaces with 20 or more employees;

– pay student nurses who are working in our hospitals at the health care assistant rate they previously paid during the first wave of the pandemic;

– implement a support package for the aviation and hospitality sectors recognising that they will not be able to reopen until Covid-19 is aggressively suppressed and a significant proportion of the population are vaccinated;

– publish, on a daily basis, the figures on the total number of people vaccinated, with details on the percentage of different age groups and priority groups that have been vaccinated;

– recognise the importance of investing in our public health system, address the long standing concerns about the inadequate resourcing of public health in Ireland and implement consultant level contracts for public health doctors;

– assess the public health cost implications arising from the effects of Long Covid;

– recognise the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on women, and to address this by implementing measures recommended by the COVID Women’s Voices group;

– Continue the EWSS until the end of 2021 and further commit to embedding such schemes into the labour market structure with important employment rights and other conditions attached as the scheme evolves;

– ensure that there is a moratorium on all evictions and rent increases until the economy has fully reopened; and call on banks to provide payment breaks to those in need, without charging any additional interest;

– pursue proactively a joint strategy and joint measures with the Northern Ireland Executive in order to develop an all-island strategy to eliminate community transmission on the island;

– introduce Garda checks five kilometres from the border with Northern Ireland;

– support the international campaign, supported by Oxfam and other organisations, for vaccines to be made available for all people, in all countries, free of charge as soon as possible.

Alan Kelly, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, Brendan Howlin, Ged Nash, Seán Sherlock, Duncan Smith.

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