Nphet to be ‘scaled back significantly’ from October 22nd

Holohan urges ‘caution’ on after-school activities as reopening of society gathers pace

Chief medical officer  Dr Tony Holohan said ‘data clearly shows that, to date, the school environment was not a major source of disease transmission’ but settings outside of school had been linked to transmission and outbreaks.    Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said ‘data clearly shows that, to date, the school environment was not a major source of disease transmission’ but settings outside of school had been linked to transmission and outbreaks. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

The State’s public health team Nphet will be scaled back from October 22nd in a sign that the county is moving into a new phase of the pandemic response.

Sources said Nphet and its associated subgroups will move from an emergency footing to a “mainstream surveillance function” in the Department of Health and HSE, a source said.

Individual members will revert to their original posts and duties. “It is a scaling back of Nphet quite significantly,” the source added.

The Covid Cabinet subcommittee and the existing senior officials group that meets weekly will also be stood down. The high level vaccination taskforce will also see its functions carried out by the HSE national immunisation office.

The Cabinet is set to sign off the decision on Tuesday along with other elements of the Government reopening plan.

On Monday, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan - who has been the public face of Nphet since the pandemic began - urged parents of children returning to school this week to be cautious about participating in after-school activities as a further 1,293 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in the State.

The Department of Health said 382 Covid-19 patients were hospitalised as of midnight on Sunday, of which 61 were in ICU.

Dr Holohan said: “As many children return to classrooms across the country today, it is important to highlight to both children and their parents that considerable preparations have been made across the country to reopen schools safely.

“Our data clearly shows that, to date, the school environment was not a major source of disease transmission,” he tweeted.

“In order to go back to school as safely as possible, my advice to children is to wash your hands or use hand sanitiser regularly and follow the protocols operating in your school.

“Parents, please keep in mind the symptoms to look out for and do not send your child to school if they display any of them, instead help them to isolate and contact you GP for advice and arrange a test if appropriate.

Hospital Report

Confirmed cases in hospital Confirmed cases in ICU
545 117

“I would also urge caution when participating in activities with classmates outside the school environment, which have proven to be settings where outbreaks & transmission in children have occurred in the past. This will help to prevent further transmission & potential outbreaks.”

Social contacts

Separately, National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) member Prof Philip Nolan urged parents to “moderate” their social contacts.

An increase in the incidence of Covid-19 among children after school reopening depends in part on the effectiveness of school mitigation measures, he said, while another factor was whether adults increase their contacts or return to the workplace.

“The successful return to school depends on the hard work of all to put those mitigation measures in place, the strict exclusion of the symptomatic, parents moderating their social contacts especially in the first few weeks, and careful monitoring,” he said on Monday.

Earlier, HSE chief executive Paul Reid said the latest data on Covid-19 hospitalisations was a “strong reminder” that coronavirus was still causing illness.

“Vaccination offers strong protection but it’s still important to be conscious of the risks by continuing public health measures. These provide protection too,” he said.

Mr Reid said 88 per cent of adults were now “fully protected” having received a vaccine against Covid-19.

“Further protections provided this weekend in ‘walk in’ vaccination centres. 14,000, more vaccines administered (7,200 yesterday). A total of over 134,000 administered via walk in centres to date,” he tweeted.

“Now 6.8M vaccines administered here. 88% of adults are now fully protected.”

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, six more people with Covid-19 have died from Covid-19, the North’s department of health reported on Monday.

A further 1,259 people tested positive for the virus.

Hospital trusts in the North warned their emergency departments (EDs) were under “extreme pressure” for the second day in a row on Monday and urged people only to come to A&E if it was an emergency.

The Western Health and Social Care Trust tweeted on Monday that emergency departments in both Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry and the South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen were “very busy”.

In Altnagelvin over 60 people were waiting in the ED and 24 waiting to be admitted to hospital, while in Enniskillen there were 47 people in ED and 21 waiting admission.

“Please only come to ED if you have a medical or mental health emergency,” the hospital said.

The Northern Health and Social Care Trust said EDs at both Antrim Area and the Causeway hospital in Coleraine were “extremely busy” with a “considerable number of people awaiting beds.

“Delays are inevitable and we apologise for this,” the hospital said.

The Ulster Hospital in Dundonald and Craigavon Area Hospital in Co Armagh also warned of pressures on their emergency departments.

Dr Alan Stout from the British Medical Association told the BBC some of those waiting were “very, very sick patients” and the delays were due to a combination of the demands of Covid-19, the prevalence of conditions which had gone untreated during the pandemic, and already long waiting lists.

“We’re struggling, full stop, to deal with this,” he said. “It is creating a very, very difficult position and a very, very concerning position because we’re still in August.”