Every tool must be used to keep Covid under control as Government relax restrictions
- Antigen testing has a vital role to play in controlling virus.
- Must continue to monitor new variants.
- Transparency and clarity of communication on vaccination programme essential.
- Continued economic supports for workers and businesses critical.
Responding to the Government announcement on restrictions this evening, Labour Party Leader Alan Kelly acknowledged the huge sacrifices the public have made and said that every tool must be used to keep the virus under control, particularly antigen testing.
Deputy Kelly said:
“This is a very important moment, and I am conscious that the public health advice supports these decisions. People have made huge sacrifices over recent months and this provides more hope for the future if vaccines can be delivered to people at the rate as has been committed to.
“But as I’ve said many times, every tool at the Government’s disposal must be used to keep the virus under control. If there is an outbreak there must be swift action to aggressively suppress the virus in the community. Walk in testing centres for example have played a vital role.
“Since last October I have repeatedly raised with the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister for Health the important role that rapid antigen testing can play. We should be looking at rolling out the model used in the UK where every household has been given 7 free tests. It is vital that we continue to find and isolate any new cases of Covid-19. Having come this far, the reluctance from Government to rapidly roll out these tests makes no sense.
“It is also vital that we continue to monitor closely the emergence of any new variants, and the dangers they can present to the success of the vaccination programme.
“The key to any return to normality is the vaccination programme. A month ago I said most people are still no wiser as to when they will be vaccinated and there is still a lack of clarity for age groups under 60 as to when they are due to be called. I will continue to press the Government for improved transparency on supply and rollout, and clarity of communications on where and when people and specific age cohorts will be vaccinated.”
“Finally, over the coming weeks we will see more people return to work but clear signals are needed from Government over the medium term about how people and their workplaces will be financially supported as we hopefully put the pandemic behind us as more and more people are vaccinated. I am already concerned at the reports I am hearing of increased number of evictions. The next pandemic we will face is the housing crisis.”