Covid: 1,355 cases as Holohan defends school close contact changes

ireland
Covid: 1,355 Cases As Holohan Defends School Close Contact Changes Covid: 1,355 Cases As Holohan Defends School Close Contact Changes
Asymptomatic children aged 12 and under will not have to get tested or restrict their movements if they are an in-school close contact. Photo: PA Images.
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Sarah Mooney

A further 1,355 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed as the country’s chief medical officer defended changes to test and trace protocols affecting children.

The new rules mean asymptomatic children aged 12 and under will not have to get tested or restrict their movements from Monday if they are an in-school close contact.

The changes were described on Thursday as "slightly illogical" by those who back a more cautious approach.

Dr Tony Holohan insisted this evening that schools are a low-risk setting for Covid transmission and said “now is the right time to evolve our contact tracing approach”.

“Our ongoing analysis of the epidemiological situation has informed the Nphet recommendation to evolve public health management of school settings from Monday next,” he said in a statement.

“The resumption of in-person education was associated with a significant increase in the numbers of children referred for testing in recent weeks. This increase was driven by the screening of asymptomatic children who had been identified as close contacts.

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“This action was precautionary and was due to the diligence of parents and guardians bringing their children for tests. Despite significantly increased testing in this age group, there has only been a relatively modest increase in the detection of cases. We have also seen the associated positivity rate decrease from 16 per cent to five per cent which is very reassuring.”

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Dr Holohan said Nphet will continue to monitor the trajectory of the disease and urged parents to keep children who are unwell and experiencing common symptoms of Covid home from school.

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“Both nationally and internationally, the evidence tells us that schools are a low risk setting for the transmission of Covid-19 among school-going children,” he said.

“As such, now is the right time to evolve our contact tracing approach, while maintaining the infection prevention and control in place in educational settings.”

Meanwhile, there were 286 Covid patients hospitalised as of this morning, with 59 in intensive care.

New figures from the HSE have revealed the counties with the highest and lowest rates of Covid vaccine uptake in the State.

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