Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Older People Mary Butler has called for regular testing of staff and residents of nursing and care homes across the country.

“This awful pandemic has borne down heaviest on older people and in particular those in nursing homes and residential facilities. Latest figures indicate that some 740 nursing home residents have passed away after contracting the Coronavirus – that’s more than half all confirmed deaths so far”, said Deputy Butler.

“It is clear that the government and health officials were behind the curve in facing up to the challenges in our nursing homes – this is something I find inexplicable given that the vulnerability of older people to the virus had been highlighted from the outset.

“Testing has been ramped up in nursing homes in recent weeks. I understand that more than 90% of them have now had their residents and staff tested. That is welcome but I think it is an exercise that should be repeated on a consistent basis.

“I would like to see the option of in-house testing explored – whereby nurses working in the nursing and care homes are enabled to carry out the tests themselves.

“Regular testing in nursing homes will provide some degree of reassurance for residents, their carers and their families. They were badly let down at the outset of the pandemic and there must be no repeat in the event of a second wave of the virus.”