News & Media

Strong Tracing system for Covid cases and rollout plan for vaccine needed

23 November 2020

Statement by Alan Kelly TD
Party Leader and Spokesperson on Health and Disability Services
  • Kelly calls for leaders to be briefed by Government in advance of Thursday announcement.
  • Detailed roll-out plan for Covid-19 vaccine must be published.

With a crucial decision on exiting level 5 due later this week, Labour Leader and Health Spokesperson Alan Kelly has said that the tracing system must be adequately resourced in order to be able to cope with any increase in cases in the run up to Christmas, and called for Party Leaders to be briefed by the government in advance of any announcement on Thursday on the move from Level 5, and the publication of a detailed roll-out plan for Covid-19 vaccines.

Deputy Kelly said:
“Later this week the Government will make a significant announcement on how the country will exit Level 5. In advance of that I am calling on the government to provide a full briefing to party leaders, and as I’ve said over recent weeks, we need to see a detailed roll-out plan for any Covid-19 vaccines that are approved over the coming weeks for emergency use.

“The tracing system must also be able to cope with any increase in cases before and after Christmas. We have seen a number of private companies set up testing sites at various locations across the country with further sites planned to open within weeks. While this expansion of testing is welcome, the tracing system needs to be beefed to up to ensure it can cope with additional demand over the festive season.

“We had a worrying but avoidable situation in October when thousands of close contacts of positive Covid cases went uncontacted because the contact tracing system became overwhelmed with cases because it was not properly resourced.  

“There can be no excuse if our contact tracing system becomes overwhelmed again. We have been here before and should know what level of demand our tracing system can take before it becomes overwhelmed.

“Minister Donnelly needs to ensure that the necessary staff are recruited before the festive period and that the Army are placed on notice and that they may be called upon if necessary.

“Private testing companies do not carry out contact tracing and our tracing system must be able to cope with the additional demand. There are thousands of competent people who can be brought in to carry out contact tracing if necessary, retired public servants, people who have been made unemployed and people who could have been seconded from different organisations. The Minister needs to ensure that everything that can be done is being done.

“The public need to have faith in the efficacy of our tracing system and it is absolutely vital that it is properly resourced in order to allow each and every one of us to have as enjoyable a Christmas as possible.”