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Source: Social Democratic and Labour Party of Northern Ireland

SDLP Brexit Spokesperson Matthew O’Toole MLA has said that he is deeply concerned that an end to the Brexit transition period could have a detrimental impact on Covid-19 contact tracing efforts across Ireland.

The South Belfast MLA was speaking after Health Minister Robin Swann confirmed to him in the Assembly that there has not yet been an agreement on information governance frameworks that would allow contact tracing information to flow freely between both jurisdictions in the event of a no-deal scenario.

Currently UK-EU data and information flows are permitted under the transition period, but if the UK leaves without a deal, there will be immense doubt over the ability of health authorities to share contact tracing data across the border freely.

Matthew O’Toole MLA said:

“It is highly likely we will still be in the middle of managing this pandemic at the end of this year. People on this island, especially in border areas, need to know that contact tracing data can be managed seamlessly between Buncrana and Derry, or Newry and Dundalk.

‘It was deeply worrying to hear from the Health Minister that this could be jeopardised by the failure to secure a comprehensive data and information sharing regime – and even more so if the uk leaves the transition period without  a deal.

‘A proper information sharing regime is critical to managing this crisis on our island. If we aren’t able to establish equivalence, we simply wont be able to do cross border contact tracing.

“We cannot allow that to happen. The Executive must come together and ask for an extension to the transition period so we can manage this public health crisis properly.”

MIL OSI United Kingdom