Jump in demand for close contact Covid testing in schools

Jump In Demand For Close Contact Covid Testing In Schools
Close contacts are being tested in 631 schools since reopening began last week. Photo: PA
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There has been a surge in demand for close contact testing in schools since the resumption of classes in recent days, the Health Service Executive has said.

Niamh O’Beirne, head of the HSE’s testing and tracing service, told The Irish Times that close contacts are being tested in 631 schools since reopening began last week.


Pupils at more than 100 primary schools have been tested every day since Tuesday of this week, and 75 secondary schools had students tested on Thursday. By lunchtime on Friday, 29 secondary schools had been earmarked for close contact testing, with demand on the service increasing as more schools resume teaching.

Ms O’Beirne said the high testing demand among school-based close contacts was reflective of the level of Covid-19 in the community, rather than evidence of spread within schools.

“These children caught Covid in the community and went into school with it, they did not get Covid in school,” she said. “There’s high incidence in the community … 30 per cent of all our cases are under the age of 18 today,” she said.

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She said there would be a better indication of the degree to which Covid may be spreading in schools, if it is spreading in schools at all, once the results of two tests scheduled for close contacts come back for the children now being tested. “There is no evidence yet of transmission in school as we await the results from day zero and day 10 testing.”


GAA effect

Meanwhile, she said the HSE’s test and trace teams had not detected any significant increases in Covid associated with recent GAA successes in Mayo and Limerick, and similarly, had not detected an increase in transmission associated with the Galway races.

While Ireland is currently experiencing very high rates of the disease, case numbers have been declining since mid-August, the latest HSE update shows.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre says incidence peaked at about 515 cases on August 23rd and now stands at 493. Incidence is rising in nine counties and falling in 19. Three counties – Monaghan, Donegal and Cavan – have 14-day incidences of over 1,000.

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