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Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

SDLP welcomes Health Minister’s action on Coronavirus

SDLP representatives have welcomed measures taken by the Health Minister to supplement the Health Service and ensure plans are in place to manage a surge in cases of coronavirus.

The party’s Health Spokesperson Sinead Bradley MLA welcomed the moves which include enhancing the testing regime for the virus, as well as deploying senior nursing and medical students to help with frontline services.

Ms Ennis said: “The SDLP asked Robin Swann … to consider redeploying third year nursing students to help bolster surge capacity. I’m pleased that plans are in place to augment our health service over the next 10-14 days with up to an additional 880 senior nursing students and 236 final year medical students available for front line service.

“We continue to be deeply grateful to all those who are preparing to ensure essential services will continue in the weeks ahead and particularly to our health service workers who are putting themselves on the front line of this emergency.”

The SDLP’s Public Health Spokesperson Justin McNulty MLA expressed his hope that the Health Minister “will keep all options open”.

He made reference to the initiative in the Republic where all healthcare professionals who are not currently working in the health service, are being urged to register and offer their services where needed.

“The ‘Be on Call for Ireland’ initiative has recruited over 24,000 people in 24 hours and I would have confidence if we can mirror this scheme we can encourage the diaspora and as many people as possible at home to step up and help our healthcare system in our hour of need,” Mr McNulty said.

“It’s critical that if we’re to identify those who have contracted coronavirus and need treatment or isolation that we scale up the testing regime. I’m glad to hear that the Minister is preparing to enhance capacity fourfold to 800 tests per day and that front line health service staff will benefit.

“This is a deeply distressing time for many. News of the first coronavirus death [on Thursday] will heighten anxiety. We must remain calm and united in the weeks ahead. Decisions must be taken quickly and implemented immediately. We will continue to make constructive contributions to the public health response and the Minister will have our support to tackle this emergency.”