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Reassuring Doctor appeals for calm as number of Covid-19 cases in children increase four-fold

Dr Collins stressed that children with symptoms are out of the school setting and said the onward risks are very low with the right mitigation measures in place

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The Health Service Executive's lead for schools has appealed for calm as the HSE works to reach principals of schools where Covid-19 has been identified among pupils. 

Dr Abigail Collins said the turn around response time after identifying a case is "actually very fast" although the number of cases in children have increased four-fold.

Dr Collins explained that because the actual number of cases in the 0-18 year old age bracket is much higher than at the end of the last academic year, this has resulted in many more close contacts being identified because they are identified in the same way.

She added that it will take a while to see the transmission levels of Covid-19 in schools because students have just returned after the summer.

Dr Collins said testing positivity among children who have symptoms and no symptoms, who might have been close contacts from a household, community or club setting, is around 7% - a decrease from around 13% a week ago.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland Dr Collins pointed out that Delta was the prevalent variant circulating in schools before the Summer break and childcare facilities remained open over the Summer break.

"All of that data has been very similar to what we saw before delta and very reassuring with the mitigation measures that we request to be in place,” she said.

"So that's reassuring and despite the high number of cases, we have no preliminary early signal that we expect to see anything vastly different when we get the results coming out over the immediate and the day 10 test results from the children who have been excluded."

She said close contacts identified within a school setting are at around 2-3%, dependent on whether they are primary or secondary students.

However, clinical teams are being stretched because the number of cases in children have increased four-fold.

Dr Collins stressed that children with symptoms are out of the school setting and said the onward risks are very low with the right mitigation measures in place.

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She added that turn around response time after identifying a case is "actually very fast" and appealed for calm as the HSE works very hard to reach principals.

Dr Abigail Collins said the time is right to consider whether children who are close contacts must be taken out of the school setting.

She said that children had paid a very high price during the pandemic as 100,000 were excluded from society last year.

She said that in the context of the harm being different thanks to the successful vaccination programme, we must continually balance whether what was necessary and appropriate a few months ago is still necessarily appropriate now.

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