💬“There’s things we do in life that inherently carry a risk & we’ve got to manage that risk… that’s what the measures are about”
— Virgin Media News (@VirginMediaNews) August 19, 2020
On Virgin Media News, Zara King interviewed Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.
From the interview:
Zara King: “Minister Donnelly, at a time when the Government is asking people to work from home where possible until the 13th of September, how can you justify sending thousands of children, from thousands of households, back into a classroom setting from next week.”
Stephen Donnelly: “The classroom setting is a controlled environment. So what’s been happening over the last few weeks and indeed months, is the Department of Education has been working very closely with public health experts and now the teachers, the principals to make sure that the infection prevention and control measures that are required are in place.
“So our homes, most of our homes are not controlled environments but schools are. And so they’re fundamentally different and are considered different from the public health doctors.”
King: “But minister, do you appreciate and understand that people are worried, they’re concerned, they don’t feel comfortable or confident about sending their children back to school next week?”
Donnelly: “I think every one of us is worried, we’re dealing with an awful virus, that we’re still learning a lot about. I’ve got three primary school kids. It would be a very unusual situation for us not to be worried. I mean we worry about our children going back to school when there’s no Covid. Of course we worry about our children going back to school. No question about it.
“We manage risk in our lives. Every time we get into a car, you know, driving a car is an inherently risky thing to do. So we have seat belts and we have rules of the road. We have all of these things. Playing sports is an inherently risky thing to do, you know.
“Our children being on trampolines is an inherently risky thing for them to be…”
King: “But are we comparing that, minister, to a global pandemic? To a virus that kills people? It’s not the same as playing sports really, is it?”
Donnelly: “Well driving cars, people die on the roads, lots of people die on the roads…like…”
King: “The risk is much higher though and we’re aware of that are we not when it comes to the virus?”
Donnelly: “Well the risk is not necessarily much higher. This is about recognising there are things we do in life which inherently carry a risk and we got to manage that risk and unfortunately until we have a vaccine, widely distributed for Covid-19, that is the case. That’s what the measures are about. They’re about saying ‘let’s move now, let’s not move until community transmission goes up and up, let’s move now to do what we know will work to reduce community transmission so that the schools can reopen’.”