There were more than 400 confirmed cases of Covid-19 across 90 outbreaks in schools last week with most in primary schools, new figures show.
Latest figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) show there were 412 cases linked to outbreaks of the virus in schools, in the week ending September 18th.
Seventy-eight of the outbreaks were in primary schools, accounting for 371 cases, 11 outbreaks were in secondary schools and one was in a special education school.
Schools accounted for the highest number of outbreaks, nearly half of the 198 recorded by health officials last week, according to the HPSC report published on Wednesday.
The impact of the return of children to schools across the country on the number of Covid-19 cases had been raised as a potential concern by some epidemiologists. Public health officials and Government figures have repeatedly stated schools are a safe environment and not a high driver of transmission of the virus.
Four nursing homes also reported new outbreaks last week, accounting for 49 confirmed cases.
Tadhg Daly – head of Nursing Homes Ireland, which represents private and voluntary providers – said there had been a small rise in outbreaks in recent weeks.
However, he added that where residents were falling ill with the virus, in many cases the effects were not as severe compared to previous waves, due to widespread vaccination of residents.
More than 2,000 nursing home residents died in the first three waves of the pandemic, as large outbreaks hit the vulnerable nursing home sector.
Four acute hospitals reported outbreaks last week, accounting for 17 confirmed cases. A further five outbreaks were confirmed in residential centres for people with disabilities, and one in a homeless accommodation facility.
There were 13 workplace outbreaks, which included three on construction sites and one in a food production plant. Some 37 confirmed cases were traced to workplaces outbreaks, the HPSC figures show.
One outbreak in a third-level institution was responsible for at least seven cases, as students returned to colleges in recent weeks.
There were nine outbreaks reported in creches and childcare facilities, leading to 33 Covid-19 cases.
There was only one new outbreak associated with a social gathering, one linked to a hotel and another linked to a restaurant.
Three outbreaks were traced to religious ceremonies, accounting for 39 new cases.
Five outbreaks were linked to transmission in retail outlets or shops, resulting in 14 confirmed cases.