Ireland

Coronavirus: North’s testing system contains ‘areas of grave concern’

Sinn Féin’s Colm Gildernew calls for answers following deaths due to hospital outbreaks

The chair of the Stormont health committee has said there are ‘areas of grave concern’ within the Covid-19 testing system in Northern Ireland. File photograph: Nick Potts/PA Wire

The chair of the Stormont health committee has said there are ‘areas of grave concern’ within the Covid-19 testing system in Northern Ireland. File photograph: Nick Potts/PA Wire

The chair of the Stormont health committee has said there are “areas of grave concern” within the Covid-19 testing system in Northern Ireland.

Colm Gildernew said his committee wants to speak to the North’s Minister for Health Robin Swann over rising case numbers and issues in the testing system.

The Sinn Féin politician has also urged that answers are provided to the families of five patients who died in the last week as a result of coronavirus outbreaks at two hospitals in the region.

“The families are entitled to know the truth of what has happened in their loved one’s case, but also the health service needs to very quickly learn how this happened and how they can prevent it happening in further settings,” he told the BBC.

Three of the deaths were at Craigavon Area Hospital and two at Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry.

The Southern Trust said a level three serious adverse incident (SAI) investigation will be carried out into the outbreak at Daisy Hill. An SAI into the outbreak at Craigavon Area Hospital is already under way.

Mr Gildernew outlined some examples of problems within the testing system, including a family who are self-isolating after their child was tested on Thursday – and are still waiting for a result.

“They have been told at times over the phone to speak to people in England, then Scotland, and when they actually got to speak to somebody here they were told that the test hadn’t been found, so those are areas of grave concern and I think they need to be addressed urgently by the Minister,” he said.

The number of coronavirus cases continued to rise in Northern Ireland over the weekend, with 222 more cases recorded by the North’s Department of Health on Saturday, and a further 176 cases on Sunday.

This brings the total number of confirmed cases in the region to 9,341, including 977 positive results confirmed in the last seven days.– PA

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