Covid: 21,302 new cases as close contact rules to be examined by officials

Public health officials will be asked to consider rules for Covid-19 close contacts amid huge staff absentee rates across many industries.
Covid: 21,302 new cases as close contact rules to be examined by officials

Muireann Duffy

Updated: 6pm

Rules for close contacts of confirmed cases of Covid-19 will be re-examined by public health officials due to the impact they are having across multiple sectors.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar confirmed officials will be asked to assess what changes could be made, warning that public health measures must avoid "doing more harm than good" as the Department of Health confirmed 21,302 new cases of the virus on Tuesday.

At 8am on Tuesday, there were 884 people with the virus in hospital, an increase of 80 in the past 24 hours. However, the number of Covid patients in ICU decreased by three in the same period, to 90.

Depending on a person's vaccination status, when identified as a close contact, they must isolate for between five and 10 days. The measures are causing widespread staff shortages, including among healthcare workers and Gardaí.

The Fine Gael leader also confirmed in-person education will resume as planned on Thursday following the Christmas holidays, despite reservations from teachers unions.

According to The Irish Times, the request to have the close contact rules changed was discussed at a meeting of the coalition leaders earlier today.

"There is a risk that across January we could see public services, critical infrastructure and industry come under pressure.

"Not because of Covid but because fully vaccinated people who have no symptoms, and negative antigen tests are being told to stay at home, I think that’s going to require some consideration," Mr Varadkar said.

The Tánaiste added the coalition leaders will ask public health officials to consider changing the measures for fully vaccinated close contacts who are displaying no symptoms.

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