The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has today been notified of 5,471 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
As of 8am today, 579 COVID-19 patients are hospitalised, of whom 122 are in ICU.
Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health said: “The ongoing efforts by parents and children to adhere to the public health advice during this pandemic has been fundamental to our work to drive down the incidence of COVID-19 in the community.
“Our priority continues to be to minimise risk and protect as many people as possible from severe illness. In a very short period of time, we have seen a significant and rapid deterioration in the epidemiological situation, in the as-yet-unvaccinated 5 – 11-year-olds. This has resulted in a sharp increase in incidence in this age group.”
Dr Holohan said in addition to the public health advice to all of us to reduce discretionary social contact and for at least the next two weeks, the following events and activities should be avoided:
– Indoor birthday parties and play dates – these should take place outdoors and should be kept small
– Indoor community gatherings involving children including communions, confirmations, nativity and other seasonal events.
“Further to this, parents should:
– Not let children attend school or creche if they have any symptoms of COVID-19. Help them to isolate at home and arrange a PCR test straight away.
– Reduce their own contacts. This means work from home unless it is essential to attend the workplace in person, it also means making difficult decisions to avoid indoor social gatherings.
– Meet others outdoors where possible.
– Wear a mask if you cannot keep a distance from others.
– Ensure that your child wears a mask if it is recommended for them
– If anyone in your household is symptomatic, they should isolate and get a PCR test. You should not use or rely on the results of an antigen test if you have symptoms
– If your child is a close contact of a case in school, you may be asked to use antigen tests, supplied by the HSE, as an additional tool. If any stage your child develops symptoms of COVID-19 or an antigen test is ‘positive’ they should be isolated at home and parents should arrange a PCR test for them.
– One in five young adults are not yet vaccinated, please consider vaccination for any older children in your household not yet protected.
“These measures are not what any of us want to hear, particularly at this time of year. We know that it adds an additional burden at what has been a very difficult time for all of us, particularly those with young families.
“NPHET has recommended, on a temporary basis, the wearing of face masks for children:
– Aged 9 years and over on public transport, in retail and other indoor public settings as currently required for those aged 13 and over, with exemptions as appropriate; and
– In third class and above in primary school.
This measure will be subject to review by NPHET in mid-February 2022.
“I am hopeful that if we all make a concerted effort to follow these measures for at least the next two weeks, we can make a real difference to incidence of disease in this cohort and in the wider public.”