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Minister for Health says there were inconsistencies in travel advice from the ECDC

The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, has disclosed that recent correspondence between his Department and the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, "expressed concern... with inconsistencies in messaging in ECDC publications in regard to international travel".



The Minister made his remarks in response to a written parliamentary question from the Aontú leader, Peadar Tóibín TD.



Commenting on the Minister's statement, Deputy Tóibín said "on 12th March last year, at the very start of the pandemic, I attended a meeting with the Tánaiste, Minister for Health and Chief Medical Officer. At that meeting I specifically raised the issue of flights landing in Ireland from infected areas and I argued that there needed to be testing and better advice for those arriving in our airports. It is shocking that the government didn't actually move to test people travelling into the country until earlier this month. At every opportunity throughout the pandemic, we in Aontú have asked the government to introduce stricter measures around international travel, and the generic response has always been that the ECDC advice was not to do so. When challenged on the logic of this, Leo Varadkar said he didn't understand the logic, and yet the government followed the advice blindly anyway".



"What we see now today, finally, is a statement from Minister Donnelly which concedes that the advice from the ECDC in relation to international travel was inconsistent. Of course one wonders how many lives could have been saved if only there had been stronger measures taken at airports - such as the measures taken by New Zealand, an island with a similar population to us, which has long since lifted most of their restrictions and experienced a death rate which was 100 times smaller than ours. Serious questions need to be asked of the ECDC and the bizarre advice they issued at the start of the pandemic, and questions remain too, for why Simon Harris, Leo Varadkar, Stephen Donnelly and Micheál Martin blindly followed this advice without questioning it", concluded Tóibín.



ENDS



______________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 20/01/2021
Question Number(s): 555 Question Reference(s): 2558/21
Department: Health
Asked by: Peadar Tóibín T.D.
______________________________________________


QUESTION


To ask the Minister for Health if he received advice from the ECDC or any other European Union agency verbally, by letter or electronically not to impose travel restrictions or mandatory self-isolation or mandatory quarantine since February 2020.

REPLY


This Government continues to strongly advise against all non-essential international travel to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Recent correspondence between my Department and the ECDC expressed concern amongst our national health experts with inconsistencies in messaging in ECDC publications in relation to international travel. Such inconsistencies were recognised by the ECDC and my Department is assured that they are looking at improving procedures when developing such guidance.

Ireland has implemented a range of measures for the purposes of aligning arrangements for international travel with the EU ‘traffic light’ approach and I am committed to continued work with the EU and European institutions in a coordinated international effort.

______________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 20/01/2021
Question Number(s): 632 Question Reference(s): 2773/21
Department: Health
Asked by: Peadar Tóibín T.D.
______________________________________________


QUESTION


To ask the Minister for Health the amount of the temporary assistance payment scheme that has been drawn down to date; the geographical distribution of the funding; the number of nursing homes that have received funding; and the number of private versus public nursing homes that have received funds.

REPLY



The Temporary Assistance Payment Scheme (TAPS) for nursing homes was established in April 2020 to provide financial assistance to contribute towards the costs incurred by private nursing homes in acting to suppress and manage COVID-19. The Government made up to €92.5m available under TAPS in 2020. A further €42m has also been made available for 2021 under the extension of the Scheme until the end of June. As of 8 January 2021, the HSE reported to the Department that €62.1m had been paid out under TAPS.

As your specific questions relate to service matters, I have arranged for your correspondence to be referred to the HSE for consideration and direct reply to you.


______________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 20/01/2021
Question Number(s): 633 Question Reference(s): 2774/21
Department: Health
Asked by: Peadar Tóibín T.D.
______________________________________________


QUESTION


To ask the Minister for Health the number of Covid-19 tests carried out in nursing homes in each month since March 2020.

REPLY



As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the deputy directly, as soon as possible.

______________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 20/01/2021
Question Number(s): 635 Question Reference(s): 2782/21
Department: Health
Asked by: Peadar Tóibín T.D.
______________________________________________


QUESTION


To ask the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to instances in which staff in nursing homes are struggling to care for patients and are seeking assistance from members of the public or the HSE in feeding and providing drinks to patients.

REPLY


The current rate of community transmission of COVID-19 is having a significant effect on nursing homes. As international evidence shows, the higher the rate of community transmission, the greater the risk to settings like nursing homes. Across the health and social care system the rate of COVID-19 transmission is having a significant impact on the availability of staff. The HSE continues to provide PPE and other necessary supports to nursing homes across the country to help prevent and control outbreaks of COVID-19. This includes staffing support, advice, and financial support through the Temporary Assistance Payment Scheme, which has provided over €60 million to nursing homes across the country to help improve their ability to respond to COVID-19. The current staffing situation is very challenging and the HSE, at local level, through the COVID-19 Response Teams, is making every effort to identify and provide staffing supports, including where appropriate through engagement with other State bodies.

Nursing homes must also continue to do their part by ensuring that they have robust contingency plans in place, including staffing plans; ensuring they follow all of the infection prevention and control advice and guidance; utilising the extensive training and other supports provided to them; and ensuring all staff are fully up-to-date on good infection prevention control practice.

I have referred your particular query to the HSE for direct reply.

By Aontú Press | 25 January, 2021



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