Meath West Aontú TD, Peadar Tóibín has claimed that there are serious questions for the government to answer after revelations that over half of those who died of Covid-19 in the State contracted the virus either in nursing homes or in hospitals.

He told Meath Live, “It is becoming more and more evident that throughout this pandemic the most vulnerable have been left the most exposed to Covid-19. Today we have confirmation that 56% of the people who died with Covid in the State contracted the virus either in hospital or in nursing homes.

“The HSE have confirmed this week that roughly 750 people who caught the virus while in hospital have died, and we know that more than 2,000 of those who died from Covid-19 were nursing home residents. It is a truly shocking statistic.

“The Department of Health has confirmed to me that the State Claims Agency has received a claim in relation to one of these deaths, time will tell how many more claims are made by grieving fami

“All throughout this pandemic,

many in government have pointed the figure at young people and at the general public in relation to the high number of cases and daily deaths – whenever we see a rise in the cases or deaths, the message at the daily press briefing is that the public need to ‘try a little harder ‘, or ‘up the efforts at suppressing the virus’.

“Yet we now know, on foot of statistics obtained by Aontú from the Department of Health, that between 21st June 2020 and 28th February 2021 a total of 2,676 people contracted Covid-19 in the hospital setting. 750 people died having contracted the virus in hospital. 2,000 people died in nursing homes having contracted Covid-19.

“When people enter hospital and Nursing Homes they trust the government or the HSE to look after their wellbeing. Many devastated families were shockingly let down. At the start of the pandemic nursing homes voluntarily closed their doors to visitors, only to be told by NPHET that restrictions around visiting hospitals and nursing homes ‘are not necessary at this time’.

“We all know of someone, perhaps an elderly person who presented to hospital after a fall or minor illness, only to contract Covid-19 and die while in hospital. There are 750 such people, and may they rest in peace.

“The government and HSE have serious questions to answer about these deaths. We know that in May 2020 the HSE allowed healthcare workers who were close contacts of a positive case to return to work early if they were asymptomatic. This was obviously an attempt to deal with staffing shortages, but we have to wonder how many Covid-19 cases in hospitals were as a consequence of this advice.

“There is no doubt that most hospitals and most nursing homes did their best to keep Covid out of their buildings but there were major mistakes made by the government.

“One very tragic consequence of staffing shortages was that for some patients who contracted the virus while in hospital, their families struggled to get updates from the hospital on their loved one’s condition – the nurses on the frontlines were too busy trying to keep people alive and so couldn’t answer the phones in many cases.

“Some nursing homes took to social media pleading for assistance in terms of staffing while they experienced outbreaks, and yet statistics released to us this week show that of the 74,283 people who signed up to the HSE’s ‘Be on Call for Ireland’ recruitment campaign, only 335 were actually recruited into the health service”.

“The government needs to explain the reason for this, the reason why 74,000 people ready and willing to work were left waiting on a database while hospitals and nursing homes were sinking under the pressure of major outbreaks. When this pandemic ends, there needs to be a full scale investigation into what happened in our hospitals and nursing homes”, concluded Tóibín.