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Friday, 23rd October 2020

Cross-border tracing system must be introduced urgently - Munster

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Imelda Munster TD.

"We are fighting with one arm behind our backs, and it's clearly not working”

Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster says we need an immediate plan for cross-border contact tracing and has written to Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, calling on him to make arrangements with his northern counterpart.

In light of revelations this week exposing a fundamental breakdown of the contact tracing system south of the border, Deputy Munster called for increased investment in contact tracing across the island. 

“At present, workers who live south of the border but work in the north are not subject to contact tracing follow-up procedures” she said. 

“The number of positive Covid-19 cases in the past few weeks is a matter of huge concern, with increased restrictions introduced on both sides of the border as a result. 

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“This week we learned that the contact tracing system in this jurisdiction has collapsed, which is further evidence of the need for immediate improvements and investment in the system. 

“The current situation is that if a northern worker tests positive in the north, his or her southern colleagues who are close contacts will not undergo contact tracing as they live in the south. 

“The potential ramifications of this are obvious in terms of public health, particularly in sectors where workers work in multiple locations or sites. 

“Companies are doing their best to manage this situation, but the situation is confusing for businesses and workers and needs to be managed by both departments for health. 

“Tens of thousands people a day cross the border for work. This is a serious issue for the border region, and we know that border counties are among the worst affected in terms of the virus. 

“We need to contain this. Having two separate testing and tracing systems is not helpful. 

“We need to pool our testing and tracing resources in order to address this crisis. At the moment we are fighting with one arm behind our backs, and it's clearly not working.”

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