Wednesday, September 22, 2021

The testing of asymptomatic close contacts in primary schools and childcare facilities will be discontinued under updated measures from the Department of Health.

The new Covid-19 measures will also see an end to automatic contact tracing of close contacts in these sectors, however, this will not extend to special education facilities.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly confirmed the changes will be implemented from Monday, September 27th following discussions with the chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan and the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet).

The announcement comes as the department confirmed there were 1,432 new cases of the virus recorded as of midnight on Tuesday. There are now 272 patients in hospital with Covid, 63 of whom are in ICU.

From Monday, children aged 12 or under who are asymptomatic will no longer be required to restrict their movements if they are identified as a close contacts in childcare, education, or other non-household settings, unless instructed to do so by a local public health team.

Those identified as close contacts in a household setting will be required to restrict their movements and get tested regardless of whether they have symptoms.

The department confirmed the guidance for children who display symptoms of Covid remain the same – self-isolate immediately, do not attend school or childcare facilities, and do not socialise until 48 hours after they are symptom-free.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have done our utmost to protect our school communities from the serious risks posed by Covid-19,” Mr Donnelly said.

“The latest data indicates that schools continue to be a low-risk environment for transmission of Cocid-19. As such, I am happy to be in a position today to announce these significant updates to contact tracing in our school environments.”

“If you have any concerns or notice symptoms in members of your family, the public health advice remains to self-isolate and arrange a test as soon as possible. You should not attend school, or work or socialise,” he added.

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