SIPTU Health representatives have today (Thursday, 2nd April) welcomed the call from leading infectious disease specialists calling on the Government to prioritise the testing of all health care workers for COVID-19. SIPTU Health Divisional Organiser, Paul Bell said: "We urgently need to ramp up testing and to work towards a policy that safeguards our health workers, patients and community. We have looked to other jurisdictions where mandatory testing of health workers proved to be a positive factor in defeating the virus. South Korea, Hong Kong and health authorities in Taiwan committed to this policy early and with some success. “Since SIPTU representatives first issued our demand to rigorously monitor and test all health workers for COVID-19, our concerns have proven to be well founded as official figures show 22 nursing homes have been confirmed as COVID-19 positive clusters. "The need for COVID-19 testing of community health workers is also essential as numerous older people receiving home care have been refused access to their home due to concerns that their carer might carry the virus. Our members working as Home Helps and Home Care Support Assistants need support to keep people safe and well in their homes, as the majority of the people for whom they care, are in the high risk category. This will allow hospitals to concentrate on treating COVID-19 patients and give people the assurance and comfort that they are safe in the hands of our carers." He added: “SIPTU representatives have also expressed deep concern about the increasing number of health workers waiting for tests or test results and are alarmed that the Department of Health has confirmed that almost 600 health care workers have tested positive for the virus and are off duty. We need all hands on deck so regular monitoring is essential and our members believe that the testing of all health care workers can only help our collective effort to overcome the coronavirus.”