Low interschool Covid-19 transmission rate ‘reassuring’

The transmission of Covid-19 between schools is estimated at around 1.

The data from schools is very reassuring, with 384 confirmed cases of Covid-19 to date and a detection rate of 2.5 percent, the Health Service Executive's (HSE) latest operational briefing heard yesterday afternoon (Thursday, October 29).

As of yesterday, fewer than 600 institutions, about 15 percent of all schools, had required public health risk assessment and further testing, and tested more than 15,000 people as close contacts Dr. Abigail CollinsHSE, public health medicine advisor, said at the meeting.

Most of the people tested as close contacts were students, approximately 86 percent, and 14 percent were employees or other adults. She said the trend in numbers that tested positive across the spectrum has remained "pretty low".

The positivity rate in post-primary schools was 2 percent positivity, in elementary schools 2.7 percent and in special schools 3.3 percent.

Another breakdown found that about 3 percent of adults tested in elementary schools were positive; 2.6 percent in the post-primary area and 3.1 percent in the staff for special educational needs.

Case data had shown that the proportion of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in school-age cases at the population level between the ages of four and 18 had remained stable compared to before and after returning to school.

Approximately 14.5 percent of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in August were in the school age group; 14.9 percent in September to 15.6 percent in October.

Of the cases identified in schools, 1.9 percent of all schools and 12.5 percent of the facilities where they conducted a public health risk assessment had "some inter-school transmission" with Covid-19 being far less common which was largely included.

She outlined the testing path for bespoke schools and the steps taken with each school in accordance with their individual situations. Schools are not "incubators and exacerbators" of Covid-19, she added.

Dr. Collins emphasized the need and the tremendous amount of work by teachers and parents to keep schools safe and open.

HSE Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Colm Henry emphasized the increasing pressure on hospital systems in Europe, the tendency of increasing Covid-19 cases and their relevance to what would happen in Ireland in the near future.

The hospital system here was stable and managed for the moment, not leaning on the surge capacity.

In the first wave, he added, the ICU death rate was 21 percent compared to 40 percent or more in the UK and other countries. The main reason for this was that we were able to offer the majority of intensive care in conventional intensive care units, and it stayed that way.

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