Use LFT COVID tests to enable more visits, Sugden urges

Increasing the availability and use of lateral flow tests (LFTs) could enable more loved ones visit relatives in hospitals and care homes, East Londonderry MLA Claire Sugden has said.

Thursday, 14th October 2021, 2:53 pm

Ms Sugden said making the tests more widely available could limit the transmission of COVID-19 and offer another level of protection as restrictions continued to be eased.

“Some businesses have already been doing this – with great success,” Ms Sugden said.

“Their use should be encouraged – particularly in healthcare and care home settings where they could facilitate increasing visitor numbers safely by testing those with no COVID symptoms.

“But the Minister of Health has been relatively quiet in his promotion of this resource as a way to protect staff and the wider public.

“Limits on the number and frequency of visits in care homes, hospitals and maternity services have been very difficult for people since the start of the pandemic. Loneliness and separation, particularly during periods where people’s health makes them more vulnerable, have been among the most difficult things for people to cope with over the last 18 months.

“We should be using all the tools at our disposal to help people visit and support loved ones safely. They are easy to perform and the results are very quick. LFTs should be much more widely available – both for organisations and for individuals who want to make sure they are COVID-free.”

Ms Sugden has used Assembly questions to quiz the Minister of Health Robin Swann on his plans for increasing and promoting the use of LFTs more widely.

“People want the opportunity to act responsibly in order to protect those they work with and people who use their businesses and organisations,” Ms Sugden continued.

“Promoting the use of these tests would be a very quick and simple way to do this.”