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More than 4,000 children and teachers tested for Covid-19 since schools opened

HSE CEO Paul Reid said there have been 180 index cases, with a further 84 linked to those.

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THE HSE HAS said more than 4,000 children and teachers have been tested for the coronavirus since schools re-opened, with 264 cases in total linked to schools.

Speaking to the Oireachtas Covid-19 committee this morning, HSE CEO Paul Reid said that in the first week that schools re-opened, about 17% of total testing for that week was conducted in children in the zero to ten age group and in the second week that was up to 26%.

The positivity rate in the first week was 1.4% and is currently at 1.9%. He said the HSE is watching that very closely. Reid said 90% of test results relating to schools, whether that is for students or teachers, are back within 24 hours.

He said public health doctors have “a very clear process” based on a risk assessment approach, assessing each scenario “on its own merits”.

“They look at a range of scenarios and work with the principals at schools in terms of advice,” he explained.

Reid said there have been 180 index cases related to schools – with some of those among parents – and a further 84 identified following on from those cases. 4,328 children and teachers have been tested over the last few weeks.

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“We are putting a huge focus on it and, positively, it’s keeping our children back at schools, keeping their schools open, which is exactly what we want to do,” Reid said.

In his opening statement this morning, Reid told the committee that “it is increasingly evident that we can expect and should therefore plan for subsequent waves” of the virus.

“A difficult winter season, coupled with a resurgence in Covid-19, is the worst possible scenario for our health services,” he said.

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