Video: Covid outbreak in Wexford, antigen testing option, Ireland's dirtiest towns

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Kenneth Fox

Protocol negotiations

European Union and United Kingdom negotiators need to be given time to discuss possible changes to Northern Ireland's trading arrangements, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said on Monday, expressing hope that they could register progress in the next few weeks.

The European Commission has made a "major move" in trying to ease trade from Britain to Northern Ireland with a package that was "strongly welcomed" in the UK province, particularly by the business community, Mr Coveney said.

"There is a process of dialogue now agreed between both sides and I think we need to give that time and space to work. The EU has not said their package is a 'take it or leave it' package," he said.

Kardashian engagement

Kourtney Kardashian is now engaged to Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker following a day at the beach.

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Kardashian posted two photos on Instagram of the proposal with the caption “forever”.

A representative for the reality star and businesswoman confirmed on Sunday that the couple are engaged. No other details were immediately available.

Covid outbreak

An outbreak of more than 30 cases of Covid-19 has forced a primary school in Co Wexford to close its doors until next month.

The CBS primary school has blamed “serious flaws” with the HSE’s revised close contact rules, according to The Irish Times.

The closure follows an emergency meeting of the school’s board of management on Sunday evening, which said it was closing the 270-pupil school as a “vital health and safety precaution for all”.

Under changes to HSE rules last month, children who are close contacts of confirmed Covid-19 cases in primary schools are no longer required to self-isolate if they are symptom free.

Antigen testing

Experts have questioned why Ireland remains an “outlier” when it comes to the use of antigen testing for Covid-19.

Professor of immunovirology at University College Cork, Liam Fanning, said that shipping antigen tests to every household each week throughout the winter could help to stop Covid transmission, while infectious diseases expert Professor Paddy Mallon also called for their widespread use.

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However, also speaking on Monday morning, chief scientific advisor to the Government Professor Mark Ferguson said that while antigen tests are useful and provide an extra layer of protection, they are “not a solution

Ireland's dirtiest towns

Dublin's North Inner City, Limerick City South and Drogheda have been deemed the three worst areas for litter in Ireland.

The first post-lockdown survey by Irish Business Against Litter meanwhile found Portlaoise to be the cleanest of the 40 areas surveyed across the country.

Most towns have cleaned up over the past 12 months, but litter in the nation’s main cities has worsened to levels not seen in ten years.

IBAL spokesperson Conor Horgan however said that some areas have seen an improvement.

Facebook jobs

Facebook Inc plans to hire 10,000 workers in the European Union over the next five years, the social media giant said on Monday, to help build the so-called metaverse — a nascent online world where people exist and communicate in shared virtual spaces.

This would be a significant step the company is taking towards the concept, something top boss Mark Zuckerberg has touted in recent months.

In September, Facebook committed $50 million (€43 million) towards building the metaverse, where companies like Roblox Corp and "Fortnite" maker Epic Games have an early foothold.

The company earlier launched a test of a new virtual-reality remote work app where users of the company's Oculus Quest 2 headsets can hold meetings as avatar versions of themselves.

Australian search

Australian police searching for a four-year-old girl who went missing from an outback campsite said on Monday they would "leave no stone unturned" as they urged members of the public to come forward.

Cleo Smith was last seen in her family's tent at about 1.30am local time on Saturday at the remote Blowholes Shacks campsite in Macleod, about 900 kilometres north of Perth. When her parents woke at 6.30am she was gone, police said.

An extensive search began at the weekend and additional forensic personnel arrived from Perth on Monday, alongside police, defence force and community members already scouring the rugged area.

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