Children should not have to stay out of school for two weeks when they have been identified as close contacts according to Professor of Immunology Christine Loscher.
In her view 14 days was too long, she told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show.
If a positive case was identified in a classroom, it could in effect be day two or three not day zero and if a child had a negative test on day five then they should be allowed to return to school, she said.
Chain of transmission
Prof Loscher acknowledged that mitigating factors needed to be kept in place to break the chain of transmission, but pointed out that a “simple streamlined process” for schools would speed up matters as they would know exactly what to do when a case was identified.
It had been a mistake to close the walk-in centres, she said, as it was important for parents to have quick access to testing if a case was identified in their child’s class.
The closure of the walk-in centres seemed to indicate that the testing system was coming under pressure, she added. Testing was a vital mitigating factor in the fight against the Delta virus.
Prof Loscher said she was confused about the most recent advice on asymptomatic contacts not having to restrict their movements. They could still carry a viral load and transmit the virus, so they should restrict their movements.
The decision on booster shots for over 80s in the community and over 65s in care homes was very welcome, she said, to avoid the devastation of last year. The immune response in older people was never as strong as in a younger person, she said.