THE DEPARTMENT of Public Health Mid-West has confirmed it is investigating more than 10 Covid-19 outbreaks, involving more than 80 cases, in primary and secondary schools in the Mid-West.
A HSE spokesperson said the "vast majority" are in Limerick. In total, there has been 420 Covid-19 cases in Limerick city and county between May 16 and May 26.
The Leader understands a number of schools have asked some students to stay at home as a precaution, in addition to those who are self-isolating.
"An outbreak is defined as two or more linked cases or where there is evidence of transmission within the school setting.
"A significant number of outbreaks in school settings are driven by activities outside the school e.g. large family outbreaks, multi-household clusters, and social activity.
"In addition to these outbreaks we are also investigating and contact tracing sporadic cases in schools," said the HSE spokesperson.
When a school-going child tests positive for Covid-19, the Schools Team, led by a Specialist in Public Health Medicine, 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 occurs, 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 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," said the HSE spokesperson.
Dr Mai Mannix, director of Public Health Mid-West, urged people in Limerick to exercise extra caution over the coming weeks, "as we deal with a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases and outbreaks across the city and county".
"It is particularly important that the general public adhere to Public Health guidelines and avoid high-risk social activity to protect students who will be sitting their Leaving Certificate exams in the next fortnight.
"We are concerned about the significant onward transmission from multiple settings that end up impacting school-going children. If any Leaving Cert student becomes infected or is identified as a close contact in the coming days, they will be at risk of missing out on the first week of exams," said Dr Mannix.
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