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new roadmap

Mary Lou McDonald: 'Either we get testing and tracing right or we'll be in a yo-yo effect of further restrictions'

Opposition politicians have said the new plan is confusing.

SINN FÉIN LEADER Mary Lou McDonald has said public confidence in the Taoiseach’s ability to manage the Covid-19 crisis has collapsed.

Speaking in the Dáil today, she said the growing rates of infection is “directly related to the Government’s failure to get things right”.

“Amid all of the bluster and the very long press conference that the Taoiseach hosted earlier today, there is on inescapable truth; either we get testing and tracing right and do it quickly or we will be consigned to a yo-yo effect of further restrictions and even lockdowns.

“I have no doubt that citizens will carry the burden of their responsibilities but the Government must also measure up to its responsibilities,” she said.

“You’ve made an appeal again Taoiseach today to individual citizens to shoulder their responsibilities, and that’s fair enough, but the fact is that you are failing in yours,” she said.

“You see you can publish whatever plan that you want, but they’re not worth the paper that they are written on so long as our testing and our tracing capacities are so woefully inadequate.

“So you have to get this right because a first class testing and tracing system is the springboard for everything that we want to see.

“It’s the sure mechanism to allow people to return to work and stay at work safely, to allow children and students to return to education, and to stay there safely.”

She said Dublin “is left in limbo”, adding that those over 70 are left without necessary guidance, and travel advice is confused and unsure again.

Most striking is the absence of any comprehensive plan to step up testing and tracing capacity, she said, telling the Taoiseach that some people are waiting for results of their tests, in some cases, for six or seven days.

“It is this inefficiency that allows the virus to take hold and to transmit across our communities… The Taoiseach has to get this right. A first-class testing and tracing system is the springboard for everything we want to see. It is the sure mechanism to allow people to return to work and stay at work safely and to allow children and students return to education and stay there safely.

“It is also essential to ensure our health system does not become overwhelmed at a time when trolley figures are creeping back up and waiting lists of outpatient appointments are at record levels,” she said.

The Dáil is constantly hearing stories about how some people are  constantly waiting longer than they should to either get tested or be informed that they are a close contact.

“I agree 100% in regard to testing and tracing and the centrality of it. It is in the plan and the Deputy knows it is in the plan in terms of ramping up testing capacity and contact tracing capacity, and the extra numbers being employed. That is the reality,” said Taoiseach Micheál Martin.

He denied the criticisms that the plan unveiled today places Dublin on a “level 2.5″ stating that the NPHET advice, that placed additional restrictions on the capital, was given prior to the signing off on of the new roadmap.

“There are two issues, namely, wet pubs and people attending matches in stadia with capacities of more than 5,000 people. They are the two issues that deviate from level 2 as now adopted by the Government. That is it,” he said.

Also raising concerns about testing and tracing, the Social Democrats co-leader Roisín Shortall said there is a “strong case for localised data on Covid rates in Dublin”. She added that anyone who who expected clarity and coherent advice in the new Covid plan will be “bitterly disappointed”.

She said the new plan is extremely confusing.

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