Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride reportedly makes call for 6 week lockdown for NI - but senior DUP MP questions need for a region-wide restrictions - Health Minister Robin Swann tells assembly of need for ‘decisive action now’

The Chief Medical officer for NI Dr Michael McBride has reportedly called for a six week lockdown for Northern Ireland.

Monday, 12th October 2020, 1:39 pm

Claims that Dr McBride made this call have been made this morning on the Stephen Nolan Show.

The call came as Health Minister Robin Swann told the assembly that papers from the chief medical officer and Chief scientific adviser call for “decisive action now”.

Mr Swann also confirmed that a paper setting out CMO Dr Michael McBride and chief scientific adviser Professor Ian Young’s advice on further restrictions had been presented to the First and Deputy First Ministers on Sunday night.

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Health minister Robin Swann
Health minister Robin Swann

“I can confirm that I submitted a paper yesterday evening to the First Minister and Deputy First Minister spelling out the detailed advice from the chief medical officer and the chief scientific adviser,” Mr Swann told the Assembly.

“That paper recommends decisive action be urgently taken to save lives, prevent the health service being overwhelmed and protect non-Covid services to the greatest extent possible.”

However a senior DUP MP has questioned the need for a region-wide lockdown in Northern Ireland.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson’s comments come amid reports that Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride is advocating a six-week lockdown to halt spiralling infection rates.

Dr Michael McBride.

Sir Jeffrey said such a proposal was far more extensive than what was in place or being considered elsewhere in the UK or in the Irish Republic.

“A six-week full lockdown, back to where we were last March, would I think take us way, way ahead of anywhere else,” he told BBC Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show.

“And the rate across Northern Ireland, I would need to be convinced that such measures at the moment are appropriate for all of Northern Ireland.

“I’d be wanting to know why we’re abandoning the policy of focusing in on the areas where the infection rates are highest.”

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson added that Dr Michael McBride needed to produce the data that justified the imposition of a six-week lockdown.

“What we’re asking the chief medical officer, why do we need a full lockdown in those areas where the infection rate is much lower so as to combat the spread of infection in places like Derry and Strabane?” he said.

“I think that’s a fair question.”

The DUP’s Westminster leader also challenged Health Minister Robin Swann on why Covid-19 contingency measures – such as the reopening of a Nightingale hospital at Belfast City Hospital – had not been rolled out, if the situation facing the local health service was so grave.

It has been reported that the meeting between NI leaders and the UK’s emergency Cobra committee has taken place.

Northern Ireland’s political leaders spent Sunday having discussions with public health experts.

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