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Robin Swann: 'It wasn't that we weren't alert to the care home issues, people didn't know about our planning'

Measures to protect care homes in Northern Ireland during the pandemic could have been handled differently, Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride has said. Meanwhile, Health Minister Robin Swann defended his actions on protecting care homes, saying: “I’ve nothing to hide.”

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Health Minister Robin Swann at Parliament Buildings, Stormont

Health Minister Robin Swann at Parliament Buildings, Stormont

Health Minister Robin Swann at Parliament Buildings, Stormont

Suzanne Breen talks to Health Minister Robin Swann on his department's approach to tackling the coronavirus pandemic in Northern Ireland's care homes.

Q. Half of coronavirus deaths here have been in care homes with around 300 residents dying. British Government guidance until March 13 was that it was very unlikely that care homes would be infected. Why was this disastrous guidance followed in Northern Ireland?

A. The advice that we were given, we gave to homes at that point, reflected the situation on the ground. The line from Public Health England in February related to the fact that at that point there was no community transmission of Covid-19. It wasn't a general statement of principle. I don't want people reading too much into that guidance. Where we were in Northern Ireland regarding the spread of the virus was a different point as to where England was. We were about 10 days behind.