Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Older People Mary Butler has welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Health that he has sanctioned weekly COVID tests for staff and residents of nursing homes beginning next week.

Deputy Butler said, “I have been calling for more frequent testing for our nursing homes for over a month and I am pleased that Minister Harris has now listened to the advice and has given the go ahead for testing for staff and residents of nursing homes, beginning next week.

“There has been an unacceptably high number of Coronavirus deaths in our nursing homes and residential facilities since this pandemic took hold – 63% of all deaths have been in these settings. In the fortnight to 6th June, there were an additional 273 cases in nursing homes, with another 55 people passing away.

“It’s clear that there were failures in the system and older people and those who were most vulnerable were not properly protected from the virus.

“We need to learn from the mistakes of the past three months and place a greater emphasis on nursing homes. Only this morning I raised the issue of testing with Dr. David Nabarro from the World Health Organisation who himself advised of the need for “virus testing quite frequently, perhaps at weekly intervals or even more often if there is a concern”.

“I am glad the Minister has taken this on board and we need to ensure that the testing begins, as was advised, next week so that our older people and those who are most vulnerable can be given the best protection against this vicious virus”.