Sinn Féin MLA Pádraig Delargy: "This shortage must be addressed as an immediate priority if we are to reduce the spread of the virus"
Sinn Féin Foyle MLA, Pádraig Delargy, has said that increasing Covid testing capacity must be an immediate priority as more than 3000 people tested positive for the virus this past week.
The Derry & Strabane council area once more recorded the highest Covid rate in the North as figures from the Department of Health showed a rate of 2422.6 per 100,000.
A much-changed situation from the end of November when Derry & Strabane had the lowest rate in the North – 450 per 100,000.
Between 23 December 2021 and 29 December 2021, 3174 people had a confirmed positive test result – an increase of 131.2 per cent compared to the previous seven days.
Fermanagh & Omagh had the second highest rate with 1995.per 100,000 while Mid & East Antrim had the lowest figure of 1113.6. The overall rate for the North was 1671.0 per 100,000 – the highest rate that has been recorded since the pandemic began.
Mr Delargy said with those figures laying out in stark terms how serious the pandemic is, more lateral flow test kits must be made available.
He said: “Over the Christmas period we have seen increasing numbers of people testing positive and identified as close contacts for Covid-19.
“This has resulted in increased demand for PCR test appointments and online orders of lateral flow test kits.
“The increased demand has, however, created a shortage of PCR test appointments and supply of lateral flow test kits.
“This shortage must be addressed as an immediate priority if we are to reduce the spread of the virus and protect our health service and our hard-pressed health workers.
“I also want to pay tribute to the staff at testing centres and laboratories who are working tirelessly throughout this difficult period, work must be urgently undertaken to ensure that these workers' are properly supported and resourced.”
Meanwhile, the Western Trust has made an appeal via its Facebook page for all available staff to help Altnagelvin Hospital get through the New Year period.
The Trust's Facebook post read: “This is an urgent appeal for staff to temporarily come and support their colleagues tonight and over the next number of days.
“We are extremely busy across our Emergency Departments and throughout our hospitals.
“Maintaining our bed capacity across all our hospital settings in Altnagelvin is crucial, and the ability to do so is dependent on creating a pool of available staff.
“We are looking in particular for Nurses (all bands) and Nursing and Care Assistants, Support Services staff and Housekeepers.
“If you feel you can offer some time to help please contact your Ward/Departments regarding any availability. Bank Staff should contact the banking office directly.”
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