Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (867)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

867. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the concern in Border counties that there is no coordinated cross-Border approach to tackling Covid-19; and the action he is taking to ensure a common approach to tackling the threat to human health on the island. [38433/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

There has been significant engagement and cooperation between the Ministers for Health, the Chief Medical Officers, and the Departments of Health in Ireland and Northern Ireland during the pandemic.

An MOU on COVID-19 Response and Public Health Cooperation, was formally agreed by the Chief Medical Officers of the Department of Health and the Department of Health in Northern Ireland on 7th of April 2020. The administrations are seeking to adopt similar approaches, where it is appropriate to do so and on the advice of the respective Chief Medical Officers. Meetings of the North South Ministerial Council are an important pillar in our regular engagements with NI counterparts on COVID-19.

Significant engagement has taken place between Health Ministers, the CMOs and other officials on a range of issues in response to the pandemic, including: modelling and data sharing; public health guidance and messaging; testing and contact tracing approaches; development of tracing apps; health services and travel measures.

These discussions have led to the sharing of papers and learnings from the first phases of the pandemic as well as close cooperation on sector-specific public health guidance. Practical implementation of the MoU has also seen cooperation on critical care capacity, and on discussions related to the recent outbreak of COVID-19 in Mink farms in Denmark.