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07 Dec 2021

Covid-19 levels too high for schools to reopen says HSE Chief Clinical Officer

Schools cannot risk reopening due to continued high levels of Covid-19, the HSE Chief Clinical Officer has said this Friday January 22.

Primary and secondary schools are closed since before Christmas with classes online, but were scheduled to reopen on February 1.

However speaking on RTE's Morning Ireland, Dr Colm Henry said that transmission levels are still "frankly far too high".

He said that it is tragic to be talking about school closures again because of what children experienced during the first lockdown. 

Transmission levels are now ten times what they were in early December. 

Dr Henry said this needs to reduce to a much lower level "before we can add to additional risk by the mixing of crowds at school settings".

Regarding children with additional needs who are much more vulnerable to school closures, he said "our hope is there would be priority given to certain elements of the education sector".

The country is still in a "precarious position" with "extraordinary levels" of infection, with on average over 2,500 new cases per day in the last five days. 

"Those cases have yet to become sick, some will require hospitalisation, some unfortunately will require intensive care and some unfortunately will die," the HSE Chief Clinical Officer said.

Dr Henry noted the severe pressure on hospital staff caring for very sick patients.

66% of the patients currently in intensive care in Ireland have Covid-19.

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