A Cork GP has said that outbreaks of Covid-19 in schools are inevitable despite best efforts to contain the virus and that parents should not be afraid but continue to follow guidelines.
New figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) show 30 new outbreaks in schools were recorded up until midnight on October 31 compared to 46 new outbreaks recorded the previous week.
Since the beginning of the school year, a total of 156 outbreaks have been detected in schools, according to the HPSC figures.
The HPSC defines an outbreak as two or more cases and has said that these outbreaks are associated with school children and, or, school staff.
Dr John Sheehan of Blackpool Bridge Surgery on the northside of the city said that such outbreaks are inevitable despite the “fantastic job” schools have done in dealing with Covid-19 and communicating with parents.
“The evidence so far shows that the rate of transmission among children is actually very low and I know schools have been managing those outbreaks very well.
“Having children attend school and receiving an education and some normality after being so long out of school is very important,” he said.
Dr Sheehan’s advice to parents is to continue with the hand washing, wearing face masks and social distancing.
“Sometimes we all get a little bit complacent with it and sometimes it's no harm to sit down and talk about it to reinforce things. Don’t be afraid and just follow the guidelines.
“At the end of the day, this virus gets into you via your eyes, your nose and your mouth so if we all, at an individual level, reduce down that risk it marks a big difference,” he said.
Dr Sheehan has noticed a significant drop in the number of patients presenting with symptoms in the last week and said that it is “encouraging” to see the reproductive number of the virus decrease to between 0.7 and 0.9.
“We’ve referred five people for testing in the last week in our practice so that's a big change compared to previous weeks.
“We had about 20 positive cases about two weeks ago in the space of a week and prior to that we had none for about three months so we had seen a big increase which was quite concerning.
“In the last week, we’ve had no positive cases and only had to refer about five people for testing. Talking to my colleagues, other practices are experiencing the same thing, the number of people presenting is going significantly down,” he said.
Dr Sheehan put the decreasing number of people presenting with symptoms down to Level 5 restrictions that were introduced at midnight on October 21 and said that peoples’ attitudes changed when further restrictions were put in place.