Taoiseach Micheál Martin has stated that there will be no return to widespread contact tracing in school settings, despite a surge in Covid-19 cases as well as the incidence rate being the highest among the 5-12 age group.
Contact tracing in schools settings was stopped on Monday the 27th of September, which meant that if a child was a close contact of a confirmed Covid-19 case, they would no longer have to restrict their movements if they did not exhibit symptoms.
Children aged 12 and under will still be required to restrict their movements and have a Covid-19 test if they are a close contact from a household setting.
Speculation suggested that contact tracing would be reintroduced in schools as a result of the surge in Covid-19 cases.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin stated, “I spoke to the Chief Medical Officer an hour before I arrived – there’s no return to widespread contact tracing for children because we don’t want children out of school for 10 days unnecessarily.”
Martin said that ECDC advice suggested that there may be a need for the HSE or NPHET to pilot antigen testing for selected situations in schools but not on a widespread basis yet.
He added that Covid-19 is predominantly spread in the community and not in school environments while saying, “Schools are safe places”.
Martin warned that the real issue for children was other respiratory illnesses while citing HSPC data which showed that 313 cases of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) were reported this week with 91% of the cases being in the 0-4 age group.
The Taoiseach noted that Ireland could approve the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines to children aged five to 12 next month.
IMAGE – “Dáil Éireann – Election of Taoiseach” by House of the Oireachtas (CCBY2.0)