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School outbreak One in 10 in hospital with Covid over the past fortnight was under the age of 18

Positive cases found in 810 primary and 520 secondary schools since return to the classroom

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Children aged under 18 accounted for one in 10 Covid-19 patients admitted to hospital in the past two weeks.

A total of 329 Covid-19 patients of all ages were sick enough to be hospitalised over the previous fortnight.

Thirty-three of these were under 18, including 11 younger than four, the latest surveillance report to last Sunday shows.

A small number - fewer than five 13 to 18-year-olds - were seriously ill and placed in intensive care.

It comes as the HSE has confirmed more Covid-19 positive children in schools, leading to 14,000 pupils now having to stay at home and restrict movements for 10 to 14 days after being deemed close contacts of a confirmed case.

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Head of testing and tracing at the HSE Niamh O’Beirne

Head of testing and tracing at the HSE Niamh O’Beirne

Head of testing and tracing at the HSE Niamh O’Beirne

 

Yesterday, the HSE had identified positive cases in 810 primary schools and 520 secondary schools since the return to the classroom last week.

The number of other children at home, who are close contacts and restricting movements, rose to around 14,000 - up from 12,000 on Monday.

Teachers' unions are to meet HSE public health officials today to get an update on how the surveillance of Covid-19 in schools is working.

Some primary school teachers are continuing to report delays in getting spreadsheets from the HSE with the details of children who are deemed close contacts. This is necessary in order to refer them for a test.

However, HSE test-and-trace lead Niamh O'Beirne said these children would already have been assessed after being identified as close contacts by a public health team who would have visited the school.

They would have been told to restrict movements and wait for notification of a test.

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The delay in finalising spreadsheets is due to the high volume of cases coming before the HSE central administration team set up to deal with this paperwork and take some of the burden off public service teams on the ground.

It comes as another 1,470 new cases of the virus were confirmed yesterday. There are 367 Covid-19 patients in hospital, down 17 from Monday.

The number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care remained at 59.

Overall, the Covid-19 picture for the country is signalling a downward trend.

Now the seven-day moving average is 1,493, compared to 1,739 last week.

The 14-day incidence per 100,000 is 472, compared to 523 per 100,000 last week.

It comes as hospitals are under growing pressure amid warnings from Health Minister Stephen Donnelly that more patients who delayed seeking care will be in need of specialist treatment in the coming weeks and months, including people suffering from cancer.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation said 395 patients were being treated on trolleys in Ireland's hospitals yesterday morning, the highest since the pandemic began.

The union is warning that overcrowding mixed with poor ventilation could put hospitals at risk of becoming "infection hotspots".

It wants "audits and action" for ventilation in healthcare workplaces to ensure better safety.

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