Doctor calls for more cross-Border checks to slow Covid spread

Doctor Calls For More Cross-Border Checks To Slow Covid Spread
Dr Martin Coyne says there are still no gardaí on the bridge between Lifford and Strabane. Photo: Paul Faith/AFP via Getty
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Vivienne Clarke

A doctor in Co Donegal has questioned why gardaí are not discouraging “trivial” cross-Border trips in a bid to slow the transmission of Covid-19.

Dr Martin Coyne, a GP based in Lifford, said gardaí should be in place on the Border to discourage “trivial” crossings “to buy underwear in Penneys”.


Strabane, which is within minutes of Lifford, was not under Level 5 restrictions and there were people walking back and forth across the bridge between the two towns which was effectively negating the effects of Level 5, Dr Coyne said on RTÉ radio's News at One.

“I’m not saying they should close the Border, I’d be shot for that, but they should discourage crossings.”

The Covid-19 virus was now pervasive in his practice in Lifford, he said.

The number of patients who had contracted the virus had risen from 18 to 160 in recent weeks.


'Worrying time'

Some members of staff had become ill, one of them quite seriously.

“We’re on tenterhooks and we are taking all precautions.

“This is a worrying time for us. There is no light at the end of the tunnel.”

Dr Coyne said that Lifford was bearing the brunt of what was happening in the North and still there were no gardaí on the bridge between Lifford and Strabane. “There is free movement of people, so there is free movement of the virus.”

On the same programme, Dr Tom Black in Derry said that staff in the health service were “pulling out all the stops” to find hospital beds for Covid patients so it was “absolutely the wrong thing to do” for the Northern Ireland Executive to even consider lifting restrictions.

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