"Probably unnecessary”: Covid rules for school kids likely to change
NPHET will reconsider the current Covid rules for school children this week.
There have been calls to change the conditions for close contacts as tens of thousands of children are missing out on school.
The HSE's Paul Reid suggested that rules may change for pupils who are deemed close contacts but have no symptoms of Covid.
Speaking to Newstalk, Reid said that the virus is spreading rapidly amongst young people.
In the last week, children accounted for 45% of Covid tests in the Republic of Ireland.
He said: “Over the last week or so... in the 0-18 age category, 45% of our total tests in the community came from that age group - but they’d represent just 20% of the population.”
Reid stressed that NPHET will re-consider the rules for school children this week.
They will meet on Thursday to reconsider the measures for non-symptomatic children.
He added that it is "probably unnecessary” to keep children with no symptoms out of school.
“There is no doubt that these are difficult considerations but certainly the impact it is having on children out of school where it is probably unnecessary and the wider impact on their social development has to be considered too,” Reid shared.
It is believed over 12,000 children are currently out of school after being confirmed as a close contact of someone with Covid-19.
Experts have stressed that schools are not high-risk areas for Covid infections.
“We are not seeing most children being infected at all. If you look at the cases that we have had it’s a much smaller percentage than total children in school," Reid told RTÉ.
“We now have 13,000 primary schools and early learning centres where we have had an outbreak and we now have 750 secondary schools,” he added.
Despite the outbreaks in schools and increase in testing numbers amongst the 0-18 age group, the positivity rate has decreased for this cohort.
The positivity rate for 0-18-year-olds is currently 7%.