Up to 12000 kids out of school after being deemed close contacts of a Covid-19 case 11 months ago

Up to 12000 kids out of school after being deemed close contacts of a Covid-19 case

It's only the second week back in school for thousands of primary and secondary school children across the country.

But already as many as 700 primary schools and 500 secondary schools have reported a Covid-19 case, meaning the HSE has estimated that as many as 12.000 children around Ireland are currently restricting their movements as a result of being designated a close contact of a confirmed case of the virus.

With about 1,200 schools now having identified a case among students, the situation is having a knock-on impact countrywide as under current policies, close contacts cannot resume school before they receive a clear PCR test result on day 10 after being designated as contacts.

HSE head of testing and tracing Niamh O’Beirne told the Irish Times that, on average, about 15 children are identified as close contacts in primary schools and three in secondary schools, where physical contact is less prevalent.

"Low likelihood of being positive"

Ms O'Beirne explained that children who are restricting their movements have a “relatively low likelihood of being positive," while also confirming that it will take some days to test the children and get the results, and so hence the figure of children impacted could rise 'significantly' over the coming days and weeks.

A fuller picture of the situation in schools is expected at the end of the week, although Ms O'Beirne said the vast majority of infections are expected to have come from the community, not school transmission.

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The high testing demand among school-based close contacts is more so reflective of the level of Covid-19 in the community, rather than evidence of spread within schools, she explained, pointing out that demand for swabbing in the community is at its strongest since early this year, during the third wave, but that positivity is not climbing.