Aontú has joined doctors in calling for people who attended the Cheltenham racing festival this week to be tested for the Coronavirus at the airport.
Dr Melissa Corbally, the Assistant Professor of Nursing at Dublin City University says that it would be “prudent and responsive if all passengers returning from Cheltenham related flights were tested at Dublin Airport”.
Dear @HSELive . Given the gravity of the #COVID2019IRELAND situation, I believe it would be prudent and responsive if all passengers returning from Cheltenham related flights were tested at @DublinAirport
— Dr Melissa Corbally (@DrMelCorbally) March 12, 2020
Currently, the government has announced no such testing, instead saying that “health conversations” would be had with racegoers at airports, where they will also be given leaflets.
Some 60,000 people attended the Cheltenham festival each day over four consecutive days including an estimated 10,000 people at minimum.
Many observers took issue with the fact that Cheltenham had not been cancelled.
— Janis Ward (@laurenleygold) March 10, 2020
Aontú leader, Peadar Tóibín also called for people returning from Cheltenham to be tested for COVID-19.
Welcoming the steps taken by Government directing the closure of schools, colleges and childcare facilities as well as several other public facilities , Deputy Tóibín questions however if there are plans to carry out adequate risk assessments on returning racegoers.
“Like so many others I feel it was almost incomprehensible to allow Cheltenham to go ahead, but seeing as it has, as a country we must now do all we can to limit the potential dangers it could present.
“The Tanaiste says that ‘ health conversations’ will take place with returning racegoers; what does this mean, it seems incredibly vague,” said the Meath West TD.
“We know there was one case confirmed in Cheltenham prior to the Festival taking place. We saw the pictures of crowded stands where there was barely an inch between spectators, let along the suggested one metre. We know that people will have piled into pubs, clubs and restaurants after the races, increasing the risk of contagion”.
He also renewed calls for travel restrictions. “In addition to any likely threat from Cheltenham, I am very concerned that flights continue to come in from affected countries. Spain has had a big spike in cases yet flights from Spain continue to land here”.
“Again, while I welcome the latest decisions taken by the Government to try and stem the tide of Coronavirus, the measures must be as far reaching as possible and we simply cannot allow people to enter the country without stringent risk assessments”.