Northern Ireland Department of Health calls out Taoiseach's "wholly incorrect" comments about testing for UK variant
Micheál Martin had said of the new variant in Northern Ireland that "their view is that the variant doesn’t appear to be as big an issue".
Northern Ireland's Department of Health has released a statement rejecting "misleading commentary" in relation to new variants of Covid-19.
Claims which were made by Taoiseach Micheál Martin have been labelled "wholly incorrect" regarding ongoing work on the identification of new Covid variants.
Speaking on Brendan O'Connor's show on RTÉ Radio One over the weekend and referring to the B.1.1.7 variant, otherwise known as the 'UK variant', Martin had said that "the north isn't testing for the variant", and that after speaking with leaders in the north, "their view is that the variant doesn’t appear to be as big an issue".
The statement released by the Northern Ireland Department of Health rejects Martin's claims entirely, stating: "To suggest that NI is inactive in this field would be wholly incorrect – and is unfair to the dedicated, expert local staff working intensively in this area. Work is ongoing in relation to increasing the level of publicly available data on the ‘B.1.1.7 variant’ in NI.
"In addition to whole genome sequencing, the prevalence of the ‘B.1.1.7 variant’ in the UK regions, including Northern Ireland, is being monitored via PCR testing data – and reported on publicly by the Office for National Statistics."
The statement in full can be read here.