Parents warned by HSE not to use WhatsApp school groups to name children with Covid-19

The HSE has issued a warning to parents in primary school WhatsApp groups about the dangers of rumor mills naming a child with Covid-19.

Parental hatsApp exchanges could accelerate following the decision to drop routine testing and tracing of elementary school children who are a classmate’s close contact with the virus.

But this potential flurry of exchanges, which can easily turn into a hotbed of well-meaning school gossip about a child positive for Covid-19, should not be published.

The HSE told parents it was important that “a child’s privacy is not breached in accordance with normal GDPR requirements.”

The council warned, “It is important that children and families do not feel targeted or pressured into disclosing information. “

Confirmation ensued that principals were informed that there was “no clinical need” for information to be shared with parents of classmates if a student tested positive.

However, parents should not send their child to school if they have possible symptoms of Covid-19 and they can contact their GP for free to arrange a test or book online.

It comes as around 10,000 children, who were restricting their movements after being identified as close contact, returned to class yesterday without testing.

A spokesperson for the Irish National Teachers’ Organization (INTO) said there was “a lot of confusion on the ground” in primary schools yesterday.

Among the concerns reported by school principals were issues regarding children with weaker immune systems due to a particular disease, as well as students with special educational needs in regular classes.

He said there was also confusion resulting from automated texts resulting from previous cases telling them not to return to school until a certain day.

He had called for postponing changes to contact tracing arrangements in primary schools until more data on outbreaks in schools became available.

There are still plenty of Covid-19 circulating in Ireland with 1,049 new cases reported yesterday.

Some 310 Covid-19 patients were hospitalized, up from 297 a week ago. Among them, 66 are in intensive care, against 65 yesterday the week.

However, while there has been a decline in the number of test takers – in part due to changes in elementary school children considered to be close contacts – the positivity rate has increased.

Yesterday it was 7.16% against 5.46% last Friday, which the HSE says is due to a concentration of people with symptoms seeking to get tested.

Children under 12 are the only group of the population that is still not eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine.

Pfizer is due to submit data soon to the European Medicines Agency to seek approval of a vaccine for children aged five to 11.

However, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said yesterday that a vaccine for these young children is not expected “during this calendar year”.

He said: “The conversations the Surgeon General and I have had is that we wouldn’t expect anything like this in this calendar year. We will keep this under very careful review. “

A selected group of people with very weak immune systems, including transplant patients, will be asked to request a third “complement” or booster vaccine starting this week.

Next week, GPs will also start offering the additional vaccines to their patients over the age of 80. Nursing home residents over the age of 65 will also be in line for another vaccine.

Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the vaccination program rollout and the Ireland coronavirus case rate

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