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'Essential role' 1,963 new Covid cases reported as Tony Holohan reassures parents ahead of schools return

I am conscious that parents and guardians will be concerned about the high level of incidence of Covid-19 amongst the 5-12 age group, particularly as children head back to school on Monday after the mid-term"

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Tony Holohan

Tony Holohan

Tony Holohan

Another 1,963 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Ireland.

This is significantly lower than the near 3,000 cases reported on Saturday.

At 8am today, 500 Covid-19 patients were in hospital, of whom 93 were in intensive care.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan offered reassurance to parents who might be anxious as children go back to school tomorrow after the Halloween break amid high infection numbers.

“I am conscious that parents and guardians will be concerned about the high level of incidence of Covid-19 amongst the 5-12 age group, particularly as children head back to school on Monday after the mid-term,” Dr Holohan said.

“I want to reassure you that, as winter approaches, Nphet continues to monitor the level of incidence of the disease and to closely review the epidemiological data, the international research and guidance and to update our advice accordingly.”

He said that in the vast majority of cases, children who get Covid experience mild or no symptoms, and he said that the public health advice is based on the direct experience of the pandemic in Ireland.

"It shows that child-to-child transmission is uncommon in school settings where there are preventive measures in place like those throughout our schools,” he said.

“Schools are vital to the health and wellbeing of our children and it is important that we continue to balance the priorities of safeguarding public health in the community with the social and psychological development needs of our youngest generation.”

There have been calls from teachers’ unions and from parents for the reintroduction of Covid contact tracing and testing in primary schools after a number of outbreaks in recent weeks.

The Government has suggested that rapid antigen tests could be used shortly to test asymptomatic close contact children at home rather than referring them for a PCR test with the HSE, in order to reduce disruption.

Dr Holohan continued: “As parents and guardians, you are playing an essential role in driving down Covid-19 infection in our communities.”

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He urged them to continue to follow the public health advice on Covid.

“I want to thank parents and guardians, grandparents, teachers, schools and of course, schoolchildren themselves, for continuing to work with us to limit the spread of Covid-19 and to keep driving down incidence of infection,” he said.

“You are helping us to protect patients in hospital and people in the community who are the most vulnerable to infection and severe illness. Your effort is vital to our success.”

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