A “memorandum of understanding” has been agreed by the health ministers in the Republic and Northern Ireland, that being Simon Harris TD and Robin Swann MLA respectively, and the two Chief Medical Officers, Dr. Tony Holohan and Dr. Michael McBride.
The agreement focuses on greater co-operation including around public health campaigns, research, and modeling the possible spread of the disease, the Irish News in Belfast reported.
The joint procurement of vital supplies, including much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE), will also be discussed “where this is of mutual benefit,” the North’s Department of Health said.
The agreement was signed just a few days after finance minister Conor Murphy confirmed that a planned order with the Irish government for PPE for healthcare workers had fallen through.
Mr. Harris said that the memorandum will ensure that both administrations adopt similar approaches, where possible.
“This MOU will ensure timely and responsive communications and decisions in a fast-moving environment; that both Administrations will seek to adopt similar approaches, where it is appropriate to do so on the advice of respective Chief Medical Officers,” Harris said.
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“I want to thank my colleagues in Northern Ireland for their co-operation to date. This is a global pandemic. It knows no borders and we are all in this together. It is essential we continue to do everything we can across the island to fight this pandemic.”
According to the News report, critics had suggested that the Republic had been more pro-active in its response to the pandemic, including shutting schools and asking people to remain at home before the UK did.
Doctors McBride and Holohan said the memorandum would formalize close co-operation between the administrations, which has already been taking place since the start of the pandemic.