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On the rise Covid cases in schools doubled within a week, latest figures show

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Education Minister Norma Foley

Education Minister Norma Foley

Education Minister Norma Foley

The number of weekly Covid outbreaks recorded in schools doubled again last week, according to latest data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC)

There were 46 outbreaks in the week-ending October 17 - last Saturday - compared with 25 the previous week.

The figures for week-ending October 10 was, itself, a doubling of 12, 13, 11 and 12 in each of the preceding four weeks.

It brings the total since term began to 119, out of 4,000 primary and post-primary schools.

Although the number is relatively low and schools are not seen as hubs for transmission of the disease, the figure reflects how the increasing level of infection in the community is seeping into education settings.

The spread has added to pressures on principals, teachers and other school staff, compounded by delays in contact tracing and testing because the system was overwhelmed.

The strain on schools was evident earlier this week when some took a decision to close because they couldn’t get updated information from public health officials.

Where an outbreak – two cases or more - occurs in a school, the HPSC says transmission of Covid-19 within the school has not necessarily been established.

Health chiefs say it is more likely that children, or staff, bring infection in from outside.

Confirmation of a Covid infection in an educational setting triggers a Public Health Risk Assessment (PHRA) which determines what action, such as identifying and contacting close contacts, and testing, is required.

Public Health officials also vested with the task of contact tracing, but some principals have bene doing that themselves in a bid to speed things up.

Earlier this week, Education Minister Norma Foley said 10,513 students and staff had been swabbed arising from a confirmed case in a school.

This has resulted in the detection of 246 additional cases, a positive detection rate of 2pc, compared with over 7pc in the wider community.


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