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Donegal: Stephen Donnelly to meet with local politicians and public health officials over virus concerns

Donegal TD Pearse Doherty said the CMO had painted the county with a “wide brush”.

Image: Leah Farrell

HEALTH MINISTER STEPHEN Donnelly will this evening meet with public health officials, the HSE and Donegal politicians “to see what additional supports can be deployed to help fight Covid in Donegal”, he tweeted this afternoon.

The national 14-day incidence rate is 127.3 per 100,000 people, according to the latest figures published yesterday.

But the incidence rate in Donegal stands at 293.4 cases per 100,000 people, “way over and above what we’re seeing across much of the rest of the country”, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn told a Department of Health briefing yesterday.

29 new cases of the virus were reported in the county yesterday.

Dr Glynn said the incidence rate in Donegal has essentially been above the national average since last September.

“At the moment it doesn’t appear that workplaces are a key driver of what’s happening,” he said.

“What’s being reported is just persistent, and unfortunately, reasonably widespread non-compliance with basic measures.

“We’re seeing birthday parties, peer parties, older secondary school children meeting outside of school, social events linked to funerals,” Dr Glynn said.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said public health officials are “genuinely concerned” about the situation in Donegal.

Compared with the rest of the country, he said there is a “concerning level of compliance” in the county.

“The kind of things that even the dogs on the street — including those in Donegal — know shouldn’t be happening are happening,” Dr Holohan added.

“We are calling on community leaders in areas such as Donegal, where the virus is still circulating at dangerous levels, to encourage the people there to stick with the public health measures, especially if they are vulnerable or have yet to be vaccinated.”

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly tweeted this afternoon, “I have arranged a meeting this evening with CMO, HSE and Donegal politicians to see what additional supports can be deployed to help fight Covid in Donegal.

“Spikes like this occur in many counties. Huge local efforts have been made and the community will continue these efforts.”

A wide brush

This afternoonSinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty said the CMO had used a “wide brush” to paint the county, which he said was “regrettable”.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1′s Saturday with Katie Hanon programme, the Donegal TD said, “I think that we recognise that people right across the state are doing are making huge sacrifices, and I think maybe that was lost in terms of how his message was reported.

“Western Donegal had the lowest incidence rate just about a fortnight ago in the entire state. And yet we have two electoral areas that are quite high and have been for quite some while,” Doherty said.

But he added, “There’s no doubt about it. The incidence rates are far too high in Donegal and we need to get them back to where we were a couple of weeks ago, which is midtable and below.”

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walk-in test centre has opened in Letterkenny at St Conal’s Hospital Campus. It’s open daily from 9.30am to 6pm until 7 May. 

Yesterday, Dr Glynn urged anyone in the county with a concern to visit the test centre.

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