Digital Desk Staff
The reopening of schools and colleges in the autumn is to proceed as planned, despite a fresh increase in Covid-19 cases.
As The Irish Times reports, schools are “on course” to return to normal in-person teaching later this month, a Government source indicated on Sunday, with specific measures put in place to control the spread of infection.
With more than 1,800 new cases recorded on Saturday and Sunday – the highest figures since January – the trajectory of the virus appears to have undergone a further step change.
Officials are uncertain at this stage whether the rise is the result of the reopening of indoor dining two weeks ago, or due to some other factor.
There is “concern but not alarm” about the rise in figures, which will see Ireland with one of the highest incidences of Covid-19 in Europe within days, according to the source.
Public health officials had projected a rise in case numbers due to the Delta variant and the easing of lockdown, it was pointed out, with figures now expected to peak towards the end of this month.
Hospitalisations, which have risen above 200, are at the highest level since April, but intensive care numbers remain relatively stable. Eighty per cent of those in ICU are unvaccinated.
More than 23,000 testing swabs were taken over the weekend, the highest figure since January.
Despite the upward trend, there was “no suggestion” extra measures were needed at this stage, or that the easing of restrictions could be accelerated, the source said.
Officials believe Ireland’s high figures relative to neighbouring countries are the result of wider testing, a rise in travel-related cases and a continuing increase in cases linked to the Delta variant of the virus.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said on Sunday the Government would be presenting a comprehensive roadmap later this month outlining how it intends to reopen the remainder of society and manage Covid-19 during the winter period.
“Because of the high vaccination rates which will be attained by then, the approach will be different,” he said.
The reopening of schools is a priority, as well as the return of students to further and higher education campuses, he stressed.