Sinn Féin MLA and health spokesperson Colm Gildernew has welcomed the publication of the Department of Health’s long-awaited COVID-19 test, trace, isolate and support strategy and added that more work is now needed to implement it effectively.
Colm Gildernew said:
“On the 3rd of March, the British government published its Action Plan, which the Health Minister decided to follow. This led to contact tracing in the north being stopped on the 12th March, contrary to WHO advice.
“We now have a plan from the Department of Health to scale up contact tracing as part of the work to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“I welcome the move towards closer compliance with the World Health Organisation guidance, which has consistently called for testing, contact tracing and isolating all suspected cases.
“However, there still appears to be a reluctance from the Department to acknowledge lessons learned.
“I am also concerned that the strategy does not refer to international best practice and guidance from the World Health Organisation and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
“The Department of Health needs to increase testing capacity and re-establish a contact tracing system that had been previously stood down with an aim to find all suspected cases.
“Consideration also needs to be given to the level of support for those who have to self-isolate or shield.
“So, while I welcome progress in developing this strategy, there is much more to do.”