06 Jul 2022

Avoid play dates, parties, nativity plays, communions, wear masks - Dr Tony Holohan sets out the new Covid-19 measures for parents

Avoid play dates, parties, nativity plays, communions, wear masks - Dr Tony Holohan sets out the new Covid-19 measures for parents

Avoiding sleepovers, indoor parties, play dates, communions and Christmas plays are among the measures laid out for parents by Dr Tony Holohan as efforts continue to tackle the spread of the Covid-19 Delta variant in Ireland.

In the daily statement from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPETH), Dr Tony Holohan explained why tighter restrictions are needed to reduce outbreaks involving children, many of whom have not been vaccinated.

"In a very short period of time, we have seen a significant and rapid deterioration in the epidemiological situation, in the as-yet-unvaccinated 5 – 11-year-olds. This has resulted in a sharp increase in incidence in this age group," he said.

The CMO said that in addition to the public health advice to all Irish people to reduce discretionary social contact and for at least the next two weeks, he outlined the following events and activities to be be avoided when it comes to children:

  • Indoor birthday parties and play dates – these should take place outdoors and should be kept small;
  • Sleepovers;
  • Indoor community gatherings involving children including communions, confirmations, nativity and other seasonal events.

In addition he also advised parents to comply with these guidelines:

  • Not let children attend school or creche if they have any symptoms of COVID-19;
  • Help them to isolate at home and arrange a PCR test straight away;
  • Reduce their own contacts. This means work from home unless it is essential to attend the workplace in person, it also means making difficult decisions to avoid indoor social gatherings;
  • Meet others outdoors where possible;
  • Wear a mask if you cannot keep a distance from others;
  • Ensure that your child wears a mask if it is recommended for them;
  • If anyone in your household is symptomatic, they should isolate and get a PCR test. You should not use or rely on the results of an antigen test if you have symptoms;
  • If your child is a close contact of a case in school, you may be asked to use antigen tests, supplied by the HSE, as an additional tool;
  • If any stage your child develops symptoms of COVID-19 or an antigen test is ‘positive’ they should be isolated at home and parents should arrange a PCR test for them;
  • One in five young adults are not yet vaccinated, please consider vaccination for any older children in your household not yet protected.

He said the steps are important.

"These measures are not what any of us want to hear, particularly at this time of year. We know that it adds an additional burden at what has been a very difficult time for all of us, particularly those with young families," he said.

Dr Holohan said NPHET has recommended, on a temporary basis, the wearing of face masks for children:

  • Aged 9 years and over on public transport, in retail and other indoor public settings as currently required for those aged 13 and over, with exemptions as appropriate;
  • In third class and above in primary school;
  • This measure will be subject to review by NPHET in mid-February 2022.

He added that compliance can have a big impact.

"I am hopeful that if we all make a concerted effort to follow these measures for at least the next two weeks, we can make a real difference to incidence of disease in this cohort and in the wider public," he said.

He also praised parents and children.

"The ongoing efforts by parents and children to adhere to the public health advice during this pandemic has been fundamental to our work to drive down the incidence of COVID-19 in the community.

"Our priority continues to be to minimise risk and protect as many people as possible from severe illness," he said. 

The latest Health Protection Surveillance Centre published by NPHET show that 5,471 new Covid-19 cases were confirmed. As of 8am Tuesday, November 30, 579 COVID-19 patients are hospitalised, of whom 122 are in ICU.

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