3,428 new Covid-19 cases recorded; Antigen testing set to be used in schools before Christmas

3,428 new Covid-19 cases recorded; Antigen testing set to be used in schools before Christmas

School kids raising their hands in class to answer a teacher's question.

Public health officials have confirmed 3,428 cases of Covid-19 in Ireland.

On Sunday morning there were 478 Covid patients in hospital, of which 75 were being treated in intensive care.

It comes as Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said he expects antigen testing for close contacts to be used in primary schools before Christmas.

As reported in The Irish Times, Mr Donnelly said he is involved in an “ongoing conversation” with Minister for Education Norma Foley and Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Tony Holohan about the use of rapid testing for contact tracing in primary schools.

Speaking on Newstalk, Mr Donnelly said that contact tracing in primary schools had been stopped “in the interest” of students.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly TD arrives for a cabinet meeting at Dublin Castle. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly TD arrives for a cabinet meeting at Dublin Castle. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

“The data is showing very clearly that there is infection and the vast majority of that infection is happening in households. It is not happening in the schools,” he said.

What was happening was that kids were being taken out of school for ten days at a time which is obviously very damaging.

“The infection rates are going up. All of the data says they are not going up because of infections in the schools. The schools are low-risk environments.

“In fact, the recent surge in cases we have seen in those from 12 to 25 from a time perspective is actually linked to the midterm.

"What we have seen consistently is that when students are in school cases are lower than when are out and about. That is the socialisation.

Critically we are looking at how rapid testing can be used for contact tracing in the schools.

"There has been a call for rapid testing to be used, and it is something we are looking at deploying.” 

Mr Donnelly also said that new European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) guidelines involve looking at testing within pods or if you get “a certain number of positive tests within a classroom you can test within the classroom.”

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