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Prioritisation of care homes welcome, but must go further, says Bradshaw

Alliance Party Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has welcome steps announced by the Health Minister to support care homes, but cautioned testing is still required regardless of symptoms.

Robin Swann has outlined several measures to try and protect residents during the pandemic, including expansion of testing, strengthening support for care homes and investment in and reform of social care.

“Even if it is somewhat belated, this is a useful and comprehensive package of support for care home staff and social care generally, recognising our starting point was certainly not optimum and covering a range of urgent issues,” said South Belfast MLA Ms Bradshaw.

“I also welcome the marked expansion in testing, targeting care homes. We are already seeing early evidence this is beginning to pay dividends.

“However, it remains the case we are not focused enough on the reality that a lot of people have the virus without showing symptoms at all, and infectiousness is highest before symptoms even among those who do. It has been obvious for weeks we should never have been reliant on symptoms before testing.

“We must now focus on getting ahead of the virus and recognising the most up-to-date evidence to protect those most vulnerable to it.”