Covid-19: Suspected Delta variant case in Co Offaly school

HSE says cluster of cases in another class in school, which did not screen for variant

‘People who are not yet protected through vaccination should remain extra vigilant’. Photograph: iStock

‘People who are not yet protected through vaccination should remain extra vigilant’. Photograph: iStock

 

The HSE is investigating a suspected Delta variant case of Covid-19 in a Co Offaly school.

The case, which has yet to be confirmed, was identified through random screening and is being treated as a “probably” variant of concern, according to a spokeswoman.

As a result, enhanced contact tracing is being conducted by public health teams, and contacts are being asked to get tested and to isolate for 14 days.

The HSE says there is a cluster of cases in another class in the school, which did not screen for the Delta variant.

“Please do not be alarmed,” the spokeswoman said. “Public health is working closely with the school principal and will continue to do so throughout the weekend and throughout this incident.”

She said it was important for everyone to adhere to Covid-19 restrictions still in place as the impact of the variant on hospitals or ICUs was not yet known.

“Please wear face coverings and maintain a two-metre distance from others. Indoor spaces should be well ventilated and hand hygiene should be observed. Those who are not vaccinated need to be particularly vigilant. If you are called for vaccination, please attend.”

More transmissable

So far, 188 Delta variant cases have been genetically sequenced in the Republic. The variant, which is more transmissible than other strains and may result in more serious illness, accounts for about 5 per cent of all cases sequenced in present.

It takes one to two weeks to be genetically sequenced to the particular variant involved can be identified.

In the UK, cases and hospitalisation have begun rising again as the variant became dominant. In the North, variant cases account for about 25 per cent of the total, with Derry identified as a “hot-spot” with rising incidence figures.

The chief medical officers in the Republic and Northern Ireland, Dr Tony Holohan and Sir Michael McBride respectively, discussed the challenges posed by the variant on Saturday.

After the meeting, they reminded people who are intending to travel across the Border over the coming days “to be alert to the epidemiological situation in the relevant local areas” and to ensure they avoid activities that could place them at risk of infection.

Highlighting their “growing concern” over the variant, they advised that everyone should “remain careful and continue to follow the public health advice”.

Now is a time for continued caution in order to maintain the progress made to date in each jurisdiction, until more people are fully vaccinated,” the two men said in a statement.

“People who are not yet protected through vaccination should remain extra vigilant, avoid crowds or large events, meet up with others outdoors where possible and come forward for testing if they develop any symptoms of Covid-19.”