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SHARP INCREASE Covid-19 creeps into schools as weekly outbreaks double

Education Minister Norma Foley said this week that they were closely monitoring the detection rate of additional positive cases of Covid, resulting from the mass testing being carried out in schools.

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 (Danny Lawson/PA)

(Danny Lawson/PA)

(Danny Lawson/PA)

The number of weekly Covid outbreaks in schools has doubled, latest figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) show.

Although the number is relatively low and schools are not seen as hubs for transmission, the sharp increase in outbreaks show how Covid is creeping into education.

The HPSC said there were 25 outbreaks – two or more cases – in schools in the week ending October 10 compared with 12, 13, 11 and 12 in each of the preceding four weeks.

It means that more than one-third of the 73 school outbreaks recorded since the term started were notified last week.

Where a school outbreak occurs, the HPSC says transmission of Covid-19 within the school has not necessarily been established.

Even when two more cases are found within a school, health chiefs say it is more likely that children, or staff, bring the infection in from outside.

There are anecdotal reports of cases in schools following celebrations triggered by local sporting victories.

Most Covid outbreaks are happening in private homes, accounting for more than 3,000 of nwarlt 5,000 recorded up to October 10.

Confirmation of a Covid infection in an educational setting triggers a Public Health Risk Assessment (PHRA) that determines what action, such as testing, is required.

So far, around 6,000 students and staff have been swabbed arising from a confirmed case in a school.

Education Minister Norma Foley said this week that they were closely monitoring the detection rate of additional positive cases of Covid, resulting from the mass testing being carried out in schools.

She said the positivity rate in school tests was under 2pc compared with 6pc in the wider community.

Meanwhile, as Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal enter Level 4 restrictions, the Department of Education has confirmed that capacity on school buses in those counties will remain at 50pc, rather than reduce to 25pc, which is the recommendation for public transport at Level 4.

Online Editors