Non-Covid respiratory viruses are currently more problematic for school going children than Covid 19 in terms of hospital admissions but anyone showing any signs of symptoms of respiratory illness should not go to school, according to Taoiseach Micheál Martin.
Mr Martin said the message that he and his colleagues in Government have been receiving from public health experts regarding Covid-19 among the school going population is that non-Covid-19 illnesses such as RSV (Respiratory Synctial Virus) is currently leading to more hospitalisations.
“The real message from public health has been RSV and non-Covid respiratory illnesses are more of a problem for children right now in respect of admissions to hospitals and so the basic advice is that anybody who is symptomatic in any way in terms of respiratory illness should not go to school.”
Mr Martin said that had been the case for the last month to six weeks with respiratory infections such as RSV and brochiolitis being more problematic for school going children with few children getting severely ill or needing hospitalisation from Covid-19.
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He said Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly had liaised with the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan around the use of antigen testing for children after advice from the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) that antigen testing may suitable in some cases for children.
“The ECDC has suggested that in specific circumstances in schools, and I’ve spoken to the CMO, that antigen testing may be used. There will be utilisation of antigen testing in given areas within schools, again in line with advice from public health.”
Speaking in Cork where he officially unveiled the new Munster Technological University which has campuses in Bishopstown in the city and Tralee in Co Kerry, Mr Martin was also asked about relatively low levels of Covid vaccination certificates among the hospitality sector.
According to the latest survey from the ESRI, the number of people not having their Covid passes checked in pubs has shot up from 21 per cent to 37 per cent while the latest ESRI figures for restaurant show that just over one third of diners, 34 per cent, did not have their Covid-passes checked in October.
Mr Martin said: “My officials are meeting with the hospitality sector tomorrow (Tuesday) I won’t be at the meeting myself – that was never envisaged but our officials have regular engagement with different sectors pertaining to Covid-19.
“The bottom line … is we want to see maximum compliance with existing guidance and existing regulations particularly in terms of the vaccination certificates. The engagement up to now with many sectors including hospitality has been of a constructive nature and this will be constructive.”