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Kids can go trick or treating, NPHET says - unless they have flu-like symptoms

“If you have a sick child, and please isolate them and don’t let them mix with other children,” Dr Ronan Glynn said.

Image: Shutterstock/Yuganov Konstantin

DEPUTY CHIEF MEDICAL Officer Dr Ronan Glynn has advised parents that children can do normal Halloween activities this weekend, but if they have flu-like symptoms, they will have to self-isolate.

It comes after a surge in Covid-19 cases since the beginning of October, leading to NPHET officials to ask people to alter their behaviour slightly.

At this week’s NPHET briefing, Dr Ronan Glynn said “People can trick or treat, people can do the things they normally do at Halloween”.

But maybe don’t do it everyday over the weekend, maybe don’t meet up with multiple different groups of children over the weekend.

“The core message and the key message is – and it will mean that some children are very disappointed this weekend, but – if you have a sick child, and please isolate them and don’t let them mix with other children.”

He said that it wasn’t just about Covid, but about preventing children from getting RSV and flu. The first two cases of the flu season were confirmed this week. 

The main symptoms of Covid-19 among children are a high fever, a dry cough, or fatigue. Less common symptoms are a loss of taste or smell, a blocked nose, or a sore throat. If a runny nose or is sneezing are the only symptoms your child has, it’s ok to send them to school or childcare, the HSE has been advising.

Dr Glynn said: “It’s not a message that any of us want to be giving, and it’s not a message I’m sure that parents want to hear, but we do need to take the basic precautions.

“On the other hand if we do take the basic precautions there’s no reason why people can’t do the things that we normally do at Halloween very safely.”

Professor Breda Smyth, Director of Public Health for HSE West said that children in the 5-12 age group are in contact with one another “a lot”.

So it’s really important that we prevent the transmission within this age group. This is one area that really could prevent further cases – by taking this action and keeping children with symptoms at home until they’re symptom free.

It was revealed at the NPHET briefing this week that the Covid incidence rate is highest among children aged 5-12, with public health officials to monitor the cases in this age group over the coming weeks. 

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Contact tracing in schools was stopped in September as it was revealed that only 5% of children who were close contacts of confirmed cases in school settings were testing positive for Covid-19 – meaning many children were missing school unnecessarily.

This compared with 25% positivity in kids who were close contacts of a Covid-19 case in a household setting.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that NPHET is reviewing whether primary school children should be tested for Covid-19 in response to high incidence rates among that age group.

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