Politics

Nphet advises children to avoid indoor events such as nativity plays and masks for nine-year-olds


The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) is understood to have recommended to the Government that children aged nine and over should wear masks in school and other indoor settings.

In a letter to the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly tonight (Thursday) it is understood that the chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan has also said that indoor gatherings for children should be avoided for the next two weeks. This is expected to include events such as nativity plays, sleepovers, birthday parties and playdates.

Nphet is also recommending extending the requirement for Covid passes to other indoor sectors, including gyms, hairdressers and personal services.

The measures will be considered by Mr Donnelly and Government colleagues tomorrow.

However, it is understood that the group will not decide on recommending further restrictions until next week, when it has more data on whether case numbers and hospital admissions are reaching a plateau, as some officials and ministers have suggested.

Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer, said the incidence of Covid-19 “remains concerningly high”, with more than 60,000 cases reported in the last 14 days.

“We need to continue to make every effort we can to drive down incidence of disease and break the chains of transmission,” he said in a series of posts on Twitter on Thursday evening.

Dr Holohan said the best way to stop the virus spreading was “by meeting fewer people and avoiding crowds,” appealing to people socialising to “think about the risk associated with the activities you have planned”.

He encouraged people to meet outside if possible, and avoid “poorly ventilated indoor spaces”.

Earlier the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved the use of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine in children aged between five and 11, paving the way for Ireland’s National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) to consider the rollout of the vaccine to children here.

The EMA has said the under-12s should get a lower dose of the vaccine than teenagers and adults.

It is understood the special shots for children will not be delivered to Ireland until around December 20th, and it is seen as unlikely that the vaccine will be administered to primary school children here before the new year.



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