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As it stands 'we are absolutely on track' for children to go back to school in September, says NPHET

Health officials today confirmed 9 further deaths from Covid-19 in Ireland and seven new cases.

Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

SCHOOLS ARE ON Track to reopen in September, Ireland’s R-Number has decreased but social distancing must be maintained, NPHET said this evening. 

“Two weeks ago, we expressed our concerns about worrying trends in the progression of Covid-19 in Ireland,” said Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn.

“Collectively…people in Ireland responded to this call for action and together have broken chains of transmission,” said Dr Glynn, after Health Officials confirmed nine more people had died from Covid-19 in Ireland and that seven new cases had been diagnosed. 

Importantly, said Dr Glynn, eight of tonight’s reported deaths occurred in April, May and June and were only notified to NPHET in recent days. 

At tonight’s Briefing, Dr Glynn said that it is likely that schools will reopen in September – as it stands. 

“As it stands we are absolutely on track for children to go back to school in September,” he said, adding that the suppression of Covid-19 in our community will be a key factor in determining this. 

Regarding pubs, Dr Glynn said it is still too soon to make a decision regarding pubs reopening on 10 August, when asked should schools be allowed reopen before pubs. “NPHET doesn’t make either or recommendations.”

“Pubs are one of the most high-risk environments. There’s no getting away from that,” he said. “We need to look at where the disease is at in two weeks time.”

Dr Glynn also addressed today’s report that a second Dublin building site had closed due to a Covid-19 outbreak, urging people to continue following public health advice. 

It was also reported today that just 4,121 calls were made to check in with more than 60,000 passengers who arrived through Dublin Airport in the first two weeks of July.

“Could it be improved? Cleary it could be improved,” said Dr Glynn, in response to TheJournal.ie, adding a whole of Government approach is being taken to improve this aspect of Ireland’s fight against Covid-19. 

“But [travel] is only one part of it,” he said. 

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The R-Number, meanwhile, has reduced this week, said Professor Philip Nolan, Chair of NPHET’s Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, adding there had been a reduction in cases among healthcare workers in recent weeks but said there had been a reemergence of outbreaks in settings like households.  

“But a lot of these outbreaks remains sporadic,” he said. 

Commenting on today’s delayed reporting of deaths, Dr Glynn urged family members – “even though it is a particularly difficult time” – to register deaths from Covid-19 “as quickly as possible”. 

Dr Glynn also emphasised the importance of continued social distancing by the public. 

“The single biggest thing that I’ve seen day-to-day…is that people are forgetting to physically distance,” he said. 

“This virus can only transmit when people come in to contact with one another and while it’s completely understandable that as things improve people have dropped their guard a little if there’s one message I’d like to get out there it’s to keep that distance.”

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