Fall in the number of Covid-19 cases detected in primary school children

HSE reports another surge in testing as 70,000 children were swabbed last week

The number of Covid-19 cases among primary school children fell by 4 per cent in the seven days to Sunday, as the HSE recorded another surge in demand for tests within that age group.

Figures from the HSE show that 2,316 children aged between four and 12 tested positive for the virus in the week from September 13th-19th – down from 2,418 the previous week.

The number of children tested in this age group during the week jumped to 45,090 in the week to Sunday, an increase of 27 per cent from the 35,433 tested the previous week.Vaccines are only available to children aged 12 and over.

Cases among children in the older age group have been falling since the schools returned three weeks ago. The number of cases among teenagers aged 13 -17 – a group that is seeing the benefit of the vaccination programme – fell 12 per cent in the most recent week.


There were 11,502 tests carried out on teenagers in the week to Sunday, an increase of 23 per cent on the previous week.

There were 726 cases detected among 13- to 17-year-olds in the week to last Sunday, compared with 825 the previous week and 989 the week before.

The number of cases among babies and infants also fell last week, dropping by 16 per cent to 447 cases in the past week. This compares with 534 cases the previous week and 514 during the week of August 30th to September 5th.

There were 13,565 tests carried out on babies and infants up to the age of three in the most recent week, up from 12,644 the previous week.

Overall, there were 70,157 tests carried out on children last week.

Testing surge

The positivity rate in the zero to 14-year-old age group has fallen from 13 per cent, when schools reopened, to 4.4 per cent, which reflects the surge in the volume of testing.

HSE national lead for testing and tracing Niamh O’Beirne said that it was a “good trend” that the volume increase in testing is not matched by an associated rise in positive cases.

“We are generally seeing high levels of both close-contact testing and general testing of children,” she said.

“There are a combination of reasons for that: parents are bringing their children for testing because they have been notified that they are a close contact or because the children are symptomatic because there are a number of other viruses circulating.”

The number of cases among primary school children has led to more than 12,000 children being forced to stay home from school and restrict their movements as close contacts of positive cases.

A change in guidance is expected from the end of this month, where unvaccinated children who are close contacts of a confirmed Covid-19 case will not have to restrict movements, undergo contact tracing or be tested if they do not have symptoms of the virus.

The change was discussed last week by the National Public Health Emergency Team and is being brought to Cabinet by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is News Editor of The Irish Times