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No stone left unturned to help protect residents, vows Michelle O'Neill


Testing: Eddie Lynch

Testing: Eddie Lynch

Testing: Eddie Lynch

The Deputy First Minister has said that "no stone will be left unturned" when it comes to protecting care home residents from Covid-19.

Michelle O'Neill said she shared the view of the older persons' commissioner Eddie Lynch that there should be universal testing for coronavirus in care homes.

"That's something that we need to have in our nursing homes, that is the way to protect our nursing homes, we all know that's where the battle is," she said.

"We very quickly need to get to the point where all the residents and staff are tested on a regular basis because that will give us some protection alongside the other measures, because there is plenty of things happening and we need everything to come together because we need to leave no stone unturned in our nursing homes."

Coronavirus Data Graphs

First Minister Arlene Foster agreed she was "very concerned" to see progress made.

"We're working with the Health Minister to make sure the interventions we put in place, not just now, but in the future, are appropriate for the care home settings.

"We think that is something that is key, it's where the battle ground is now."

At present, there are currently 75 outbreaks in homes across Northern Ireland. Official statistics show that by May 1, 45% of all Covid-19 related deaths in Northern Ireland (232) had occurred in nursing homes.

This week, Mr Lynch said this number could be even higher as some residents' deaths were recorded as taking place in hospitals. He welcomed plans from Health Minister Robin Swann to increase testing at care homes, but has said they still do not go far enough.

Speaking to the BBC, he said: "It still isn't rolling out testing to homes that have no Covid signs or outbreaks so far, and for me the purpose of universal testing is to put that ring of steel around all of our care homes as much as we possibly can".

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