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Names of towns and regions where Covid-19 clusters are should be released, says Martin

Martin said it might change public behaviour if people know their areas have been affected.

Micheál Martin says more information about cases should be released to the public.
Micheál Martin says more information about cases should be released to the public.
Image: Leah Farrell

FIANNA FÁIL LEADER Micheál Martin has said the names and regions where clusters of Covid-19 cases have been diagnosed should be made public. 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is this afternoon meeting with party leaders at Government Buildings to brief them on the ongoing coronavirus emergency measures.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the meeting, Martin said that he would be calling on the Taoiseach to give more information about the towns and regions where cases have been confirmed. 

“I think it would help awareness but also I think it would help people protect and take steps to be careful… look at Singapore, Taiwan and other countries, they have been doing this consistently and people in those countries welcome it and it doesn’t cause any stigma but it allows people be more aware and take more self-protection,” he said. 

Every day, the Department of Health and the HSE release the national figures.

Yesterday evening the fourth death from Covid-19 was confirmed in Ireland. A further 121 people were confirmed to have contracted coronavirus bringing the total number of cases in the Republic to 906. 

Recently, a county-by-county breakdown has been provided. 

However, Martin said today more detailed information on cases diagnosed would create more self-awareness. He said if people knew there were clusters in a certain town or region, people might be more aware of their actions, and act differently by perhaps avoiding a local beach or park. 

He said this information should be released on a daily basis. 

“It would create a sense of ‘we’re all in this together’,” he said, highlighting that there’s been some criticism over the weekend about how some people are carrying on as normal and not physically distancing themselves from other people. 

He said there is a lot of fear and “scare-mongering” going on in certain areas around the country as people speculate about where cases have been diagnosed. 

By releasing more factual information about what towns and regions have been affected in each county, “it could change behavior in a good way, because people would be a bit more conscious of the situation in their locality. And they would behave accordingly. And I think that’s important. Also in terms of staff in a given institution, in terms of people who are visiting that institution. They need to know. They need to be aware of the scale of something or not,” said Martin.

The Fianna Fáil leader said that highlighting areas where clusters occur may result in more restrictions being imposed on a certain area or town, as has been the case in some other places around the world, such as New Rochelle in New York State, where the National Guard was deployed a number of weeks ago due to the high number of cases recorded in the area. 

Martin said more “severe restrictions” are needed, though he added that the majority are adhering to the guidelines. 

3169 Covid 19 Mary Lou McDonald speaks to reporters at Leinster House today where social distancing is observed. Source: Rollingnews.ie

A similar call was made by Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald who today called for all non-essential businesses to be shut down immediately. She said some workers were very concerned about their workplace practices and the lack of protections being afforded to employees. 

She said it is “not plausible” for some workers to practice safe distancing in some jobs, stating that she had a call from one construction worker who is on site with 400 people, and there is only one tap available with hot water. 

“Delays cost lives,” she said, adding such a move would lead to more job losses. McDonald said that supermarkets, petrol stations, pharmacies, public services and emergency services should stay open.

She said restaurants should close, but added that those providing take-out or delivery services could remain open if they can adhere to the HSE guidelines. 

When asked about government formation today, Martin said Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will swap papers later this week and hold further talks.

Martin said that he could not state when a new government would be up and running, stating that the focus is quite rightly on the coronavirus outbreak. 

He would not be pressed on the matter of whether Leo Varadkar, Simon Harris and Simon Coveney might remain in their roles when a new government is eventually formed. He said he would be entering those discussions this week, but said there was a “clear understanding how that would develop”, but gave no further detail.

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