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Leo dons face mask to help out with testing at Traveller site

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Leo Varadkar in scrubs at Morgan’s Place in Blanchardstown

Leo Varadkar in scrubs at Morgan’s Place in Blanchardstown

Leo Varadkar in scrubs at Morgan’s Place in Blanchardstown

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar donned scrubs and a face mask to help out with Covid-19 testing at a Traveller site in his constituency.

Mr Varadkar, a qualified doctor who recently re-registered to help out with the response to Covid-19, was on site at Morgan's Place, in Blanchardstown, on Monday when testing was being carried out.

It is unclear if Mr Varadkar himself carried out any swab tests. The Blanchardstown Traveller Development Group posted pictures on its Facebook group of Mr Varadkar wearing a scrub top and a face mask alongside locals.

The group said the testing was a precautionary measure after two recently confirmed cases of the disease in the community. Both patients are said to be recovering well.

Mr Varadkar's decision to re-register as a doctor attracted worldwide publicity.

He said his return to working as a medic was a "gesture of support" for the health service and there "won't be any photo ops".

His spokesman confirmed the pictures were genuine, saying: "The Taoiseach continues to do one shift a week.

Useful

"As he said, he isn't providing a running commentary, but does find it a useful way to see how things are on the ground in the health service, and what health service staff are experiencing on a daily basis."

Fine Gael councillor Eddie Hoare, who drew attention to the pictures by posting them on his Twitter, said: "I felt it captured the mood quite well in terms of the solidarity amongst all communities and that's what I would see it as rather than a PR stunt."

After re-registering at the start of April, Mr Varadkar offered his services to the HSE for one session a week and said he was participating in telephone clinics for half a day.

"It will just be something I'll be doing quietly once a week for the duration of the emergency," he said at the time.

Last Friday he revealed that he had so far worked three shifts.

Mr Varadkar studied medicine at Trinity. He worked as a junior doctor in a number of hospitals and qualified as a GP before turning to politics full-time in the late 2000s.

Both of his sisters work as healthcare professionals and his partner, Matt Barrett, is a cardiologist.