Testing On Covid-19 Not Fully Activated Says McGrath

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McGrath expresses concern that not all testing capacity is being utilised.

SDLP Health Committee member, Colin McGrath MLA has expressed concern that the North is not using its full testing capacity to fight Covid-19, at a time when widespread testing has been demanded, particularly in the domiciliary care sector. In the UK, it is estimated that 2000+ homes (residents and staff) are now affected by the Covid-19 virus.

South Down MLA Colin McGrath.

The South Down MLA said: “We received a briefing from the Public Health Agency at Health Committee and they discussed the approach being taken to test for COVID-19. The officials briefed the Committee that there is capacity for 2000 tests per day yet the actual figures fall way short of this.

“I was quite concerned at how this is seen as ‘positive’ – being interpreted by officials as meaning they are targeting everyone they needs to be tested. Yet this is set against many people in community and care homes sectors who feel they are still not getting the chance to be tested.

“The difficulty in Care Homes appears to be that testing only takes place when a case is already confirmed, whereas it would be surely an important move to regularly test within all care homes to check if the virus is present then more stringent measures can be taken to contain it.

“It is the view of the SDLP that we want to see a massive increase in testing, across all health care and community sectors to ensure that the identification of this virus is made so that contact tracing can follow to ensure containment can follow.” 

Mr McGrath added: “Per public health guidance, I want to see the testing figures increased significantly and not to hear that we are falling short of the identified target – especially when that target is already weak in comparison to other areas.” 

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