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Do not have playdates and avoid congregating at school gates, parents urged

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn has appealed to parents as schools get ready for a phased reopening.

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Dr Ronan Glynn, deputy chief medical officer (Julien Behal Photography/PA)

Dr Ronan Glynn, deputy chief medical officer (Julien Behal Photography/PA)

Dr Ronan Glynn, deputy chief medical officer (Julien Behal Photography/PA)

Ireland’s deputy chief medical officer has urged parents of schoolchildren not organise playdates and warned them not to congregate at school gates.

Dr Ronan Glynn said there is significant concern that the partial reopening of schools will be taken as a signal that household mixing and mobility are acceptable.

In an open letter to parents and guardians of schoolchildren, Dr Glynn said: “We cannot afford for this to happen at this time. Despite the progress we have made, Covid-19 is still circulating at high levels in our communities.

“We must do all we can individually and collectively to ensure that the reopening of schools results in the minimum possible upward pressure on the reproduction number.

“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.

I know these are difficult requests. We all – adults and children alike – want to meet up with our friends and neighbours and get back to our old routines. And we will get thereDr Ronan Glynn

“It is only through your continued buy-in to these measures that we can ensure that our children will get back to school and then stay back in school.

“I know these are difficult requests. We all – adults and children alike – want to meet up with our friends and neighbours and get back to our old routines. And we will get there.

“We now have three very effective vaccines with, hopefully, three more on the way.”

The phased reopening of schools and childcare will see some pupils return to the classroom on Monday.

Junior and senior infants, as well as first and second class in primary schools, will be among the first back to school.

Leaving Certificate students will also return to the classroom next week.

It comes as a further 29 people who had tested positive for coronavirus died.

Another 776 confirmed cases of Covid-19 were also announced on Friday.

There are currently 574 Covid-positive patients in hospital, of whom 136 are in intensive care.

As of February 23, 373,280 doses of the coronavirus vaccine had been administered in Ireland.

This includes 238,841 first doses and 134,439 second doses.

Meanwhile, the boss of the Health Service Executive said staff are working “night and day” to ensure mass vaccination centres are ready for the surge in vaccine supplies.

Paul Reid said there are currently 6,500 people trained in the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

A national recruitment campaign is currently under way to bring in more staff ahead of a significant ramp-up in vaccines.

The HSE chief executive said the rollout is based on supply, and that every vaccine is being delivered.

Around 100,000 doses of coronavirus vaccines are expected to be delivered this week – its highest to date.

The Department of Health said that plans are being put in place to vaccinate one million people a month from April.

“We have put a lot of preparation plans in place, both in terms of the various locations that we have and the significant recruitment campaign,” Mr Reid told RTE.

The Government aims to have administered first doses to 40% of people over the age of 18 by the end of April, 64% by the end of May and up to 82% of adults by the end of June.

Some 37 vaccination centres are to be set up around the country, with an aim of having one in every county.

Mr Reid said on Friday that there has been a ramping up of resources to get the vaccination centres ready.

“We have seen the use of vaccination centres, like the use of the Helix last week in DCU with more than 1,000 vaccinations by 100 GPs.

“Up to 5,000 people are being vaccinated a day in these centres.

“We have been working night and day to put these preparations in place, this is a great motivator for us in the healthcare teams and staff who are working on something really positive – everyone has galvanised behind this.

People have made huge sacrifices, particularly since December and we don't want to lose the progress we have madePaul Reid, HSE

“To date, we are in an exciting place in vaccinating the over-70s.”

Mr Reid also urged the public to continue following the Level 5 restrictions.

“People have made huge sacrifices, particularly since December and we don’t want to lose the progress we have made,” he added.

“All the indicators are going at the right direction, but it is still at a high base.”

PA


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