Glynn urges parents not to resume mixing as children return to school
There were 13,664 more vaccines given with a total of 373,280 doses administered so far
Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said :Please do not have play dates or organise after school activities which involve household mixing. Photograph: Colin Keegan/ Collins Dublin
The State’s deputy chief medical officer, Dr Ronan Glynn, has urged parents to act responsibly as children begin to return to classrooms from Monday.
Amid concerns over the ongoing high levels of infection in the community, Dr Glynn asked people not to resume mixing, saying the move to reopen schools is not to be taken as a green light to socialise.
A further 29 coronavirus deaths and 776 new cases were reported by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) on Friday. The latest figures bring the total death toll in the State to 4,300 and cases of disease to 218,251.
The five-day moving average of daily cases was 644 while the national 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 was 223.
Vaccination figures released on Friday show an increase of 13,664 doses given on the previous day. The figures up to Tuesday show that there were 238,841 first doses administered and 134,439 second doses of the vaccine given , a total of 373,280.
The HPSC data shows the latest deaths were of a median age of 77, and the range at between 29 and 95.
Of the new infections, just more than two-thirds were in people under 45 years of age, with just slightly more women than men contracting the virus. The median age is 34.
As of 8am, 574 patients were in hospital, of which 136 are in intensive care. There have been a further 24 hospitalisations within the past 24 hours.
From Monday, children in junior infants through to second class, as well as Leaving Cert students, will return to classrooms as part of a gradual process in bringing back school-based education.
In a letter issued through schools, and later released by the Department of Health, Dr Glynn warned against play dates, social activities and congregating at school gates.
“The Nphet’s most significant concern is that it will be taken as a signal by parents and wider society that other forms of household mixing, and mobility are now acceptable,” he wrote.
“We cannot afford for this to happen at this time . . . please avoid congregating at school gates over the coming weeks. Please do not have play dates or organise after school activities which involve household mixing. And please continue to work from home unless essential.”
Dr Glynn said the ongoing rollout of vaccines should offer greater certainty in the months ahead but that in the meantime the virus continued to circulate in the community at high levels.
The gradual return of children is being weighed against the risks of keeping them away from school and the consequent, potential effects on their health.
“Schools are at the heart of our communities and they play a fundamental role in the social lives and wellbeing of our children; this is particularly true for children who have special educational needs, are disadvantaged or who may have been disproportionately impacted by school closures over the last year,” he wrote.
A combination of the vaccination programme and the continued suppression of the virus through March and April will give “many more options in terms of easing of measures”, parents were told.
Meanwhile, a further two people have died in Northern Ireland after testing positive for the virus.
Another 241 individuals have tested positive for the disease, according to the latest update from the Department of Health.
On Friday morning there were 335 coronavirus-positive patients in hospital, of whom 36 were in intensive care.
The Department of Health reported on Friday afternoon that more than half a million vaccine doses have now been administered in Northern Ireland. As of February 25th, 537,086 doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered. Of those, 31, 898 are second shots with the remainder being single shots administered.