Ten Covid cases involving children in Limerick primary schools being investigated

Donal O'Regan

Reporter:

Donal O'Regan

Email:

donal.oregan@limerickleader.ie

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PUBLIC Health Mid-West has confirmed it is investigating at least 10 Covid cases involving children attending primary school in Limerick.

After becoming aware of a number of schools with Covid cases in Limerick last week, a media query was sent by the Leader to the Department of Public Health Mid-West. A spokesperson said they do not comment on individual cases or outbreaks.

"To do so would breach our duty of confidentiality to both the individuals and organisations concerned. Maintaining this confidentiality is not only an ethical requirement for the HSE, it is also a legal requirement under General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Acts 1988-2018," said the spokesperson.

However, Public Health Mid-West could confirm that it is investigating at least 10 cases involving children attending primary school in Limerick.

The spokesperson also explained its role and function in the event of an outbreak at a school or early education setting. Under legislation, all cases of notifiable infectious diseases, including Covid, are notified to the Department of Public Health.

"Mid-West cases are notified nationally to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre electronically via the Computerised Infectious Diseases Database (CIDR).

"Public Health Mid-West has a dedicated Schools Team, led by a Specialist in Public Health Medicine, that manages all confirmed Covid-19 cases associated with schools and early education settings."

To date, the spokesperson said: "A significant number of new cases and outbreaks associated with school-going children have been as a result of social gatherings outside the school environment, clusters in family households, indoor social events, public transport and car-pooling, and activities that involve close contact. Occasionally, Public Health Mid-West records cases among staff members associated with contact in staff/break rooms."

When a school-going child tests positive for Covid-19, the Schools Team works closely with families and schools to quickly carry out a risk assessment and identify all close contacts who will then be excluded from school and will be referred for testing.

"When a school-associated outbreak of two or more linked cases does occur, the Department contacts all relevant individuals to provide information to help families and staff members protect themselves and the wider community from Covid-19.

"Depending on our risk assessments, the department will offer screening to those who are close contacts in classrooms or/and whole settings in some situations.

"Until an outbreak is declared closed, Public Health Mid-West’s Schools Team engages positively and proactively with families and management, to ensure the school and wider community is protected from Covid-19."

The spokesperson gave expert advice on how you can help protect your local school community:

Avoiding high-risk social events, such as playdates, indoor meetings, birthday parties, social gatherings in groups. Further social mixing outside the school environment creates additional risk and may affect the child’s school experience.

Pupils and staff can be protected at school by a number of mitigation measures during break time, on the school bus, before and after school, etc. These measures include face coverings where recommended, socially distancing, and frequent hand washing.  

If anyone in your household, student or adult, has symptoms consistent with Covid-19, the individual should isolate and contact a GP to schedule a test. You and other household members should stay at home until test results are known. Exercising this level of precaution could prevent an outbreak from occurring at your school or among friends and family.

If you are contacted by Public Health Mid-West, please follow all recommendations and instructions to best ensure the safety of everyone, and to minimise onward spread of any infection.