Speaking after the Minister of Health announced plans to test all care home residents on a rolling basis, Sinn Féin MLA for Foyle Martina Anderson said:
“While it’s welcome that the Minister for Health has finally announced a roll-out of testing for all care home residents and staff in the north, I am deeply concerned that this testing will not start until sometime in June.
“Back in February we knew that our care homes would be hard hit by COVID19, and yet the response of the Minister was to stop community testing on the 12th of March.
“Over a month and a half ago, I raised the urgent need to test all residents and staff in Owenmor Nursing home following an outbreak so the virus could be effectively isolated.
“I wrote to the Minister of Health, his permanent secretary, the Chief Medical Officer, the Western Trust, the RQIA and I spoke directly with the Older Person’s Commissioner to urge them to use their influence and get all of the residents in Owenmor Care Home and the staff tested.
“Residents and staff at Owenmor were eventually tested, but it should not have required a lobby to get to that point.
“COVID19 has killed hundreds of people in our Care homes across the north, and it is concerning that it will be June before all residents and staff are tested.
“Testing, tracing and isolating every suspected case of COVID19 is essential for helping to control the spread of transmission and to save lives.
“The best way to prevent a second wave is to find out where the virus is.
“I would urge the Minister of Health to immediately implement plans to test all residents and staff in care homes and to reinstate community testing now.”