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Independent TD Michael McNamara, Photograph by John Kelly.

Clare TD predicts country facing another winter lockdown

DEPUTY Michael McNamara has predicted Clare people will experience another national Covid-19 lockdown this winter following a spiral in confirmed Covid-19 cases, writes Dan Danaher.

Speaking to The Clare Champion, Deputy McNamara said he always expected there would be another lockdown after the introduction of the most severe restrictions in Europe during the summer when other countries had deemed this was a time the virus would be less transmissible.

The East Clare Deputy criticised the government for not working to find a different alternative to lockdown to protect the country’s struggling health care system.

One of the more practical solutions, he said, was to dramatically increase ICU capacity with extra beds and staffing, which wasn’t done in the required numbers.

He recalled a major hospital to deal with Covid-19 patients was built in Wuhan, China in 14 days, yet Ireland only followed part of their response in terms of restrictions without properly addressing the chronic shortage of ICU bed capacity.

He expects most people will come in contact with the virus at some stage in view of the fact his own neighbours who were vaccinated have contracted it, albeit they are not seriously sick, which is probably due to getting the vaccine.

“Where is the additional capacity that Health Minster Donnelly spoke about and that he asked about when he was on the Covid-129 committee? It is simply not there.

“Cholera hospitals were built in this city in response to a cholera outbreak. TB sanatoria were built all over the State in response to that.

“We had €23 billion. What was the €23 billion spent on apart from masks that are now clogging up our sewerage systems, which was junk that was brought in from China? What was the €23 billion spent on? We have nothing to show for it. Such a wanton waste of Exchequer funding is simply reckless.”

His comments come after 945 confirmed cases were recorded in Clare over a 14-day period up to November 1 and 476 over a seven-day period.

The 14-day incidence in Clare at 795% is the seventh highest in the country and the highest in the Mid-West where the corresponding figures are 765% in Limerick and 614% in Tipperary.

The 14-day incidence in the Ennistymon Municipal District on October 25 was 1,054, which was almost twice the national average of 587%.

The MD rate in Ennis also exceeded the national average on 944, compared to 681 in Kilrush, 661 in Killaloe and 579 in Shannon.

Speaking in the Dáil, Deputy McNamara criticised the proposed extension of Covid-19 emergency powers for another three months, and Minister Donnelly’s tweet that anyone who opposed this was “reckless”.

He claimed three members of the Cabinet had collective responsibility for running down the health service.

“The Taoiseach, Deputy Micheál Martin, when he was the Minister for Health, came up with the HSE as a way to spend money on reports.

“The Tánaiste, Deputy Leo Varadkar, when he was the Minister could not get out of there fast enough. The Minister, Deputy Simon Harris, caused a general election when he was the Minister for Health.

“We thought he was the most inept Minister for Health ever, or at least we were told that by some Fianna Fáil canvassers before the last election. That was reckless to run down a health service the way they did.

“It was reckless to fail to do anything about it when getting into office, which is what the Minister, Deputy Stephen Donnelly, has done. If the Minister wants to talk about recklessness, it is reckless to deny children the ability to play sports during a pandemic when they are locked up in their homes.”

“It is reckless to tell them it is safe to sit in a classroom for six hours a day but not safe to play sports. It is reckless because of the effect it has on their formation and particularly on their mental health.

“Let us look at the vaccines and let us look at their efficiency and efficacy. Vaccines of course have stopped people from getting seriously ill, but now we know of waning immunity.

“We now know that how infectious somebody is, whether they are vaccinated or not, varies relatively little.

“We know that there is an enduring immunity from recovery. There are also question marks still about masks and about how small are the particles by which the virus is spread.”

Minister Donnelly acknowledged the importance to debate these powers, which are temporary in nature, but do have an impact right across the State, communities and the economy.

“The Government has always been conscious that public health measures being imposed are proportionate to the harm the virus represents. It is critical that we maintain the ability, on a temporary basis, to respond to the evolving trajectory of Covid-19.”

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