The National Public Health Emergency Team has agreed to recommend that the Government proceeds with its plan for a further lifting of restrictions from next Monday, given the latest data on Covid-19.

The requirement for children who are deemed to be close contacts of a confirmed Covid-19 case to be tested and to restrict their movements may also cease at the end of this month.

NPHET agreed today that this change could be implemented if no significant in-school transmission is seen in the meantime.

The Health Service Executive has estimated that on any given day, around 10,000 children under the age of 18 are restricting their movements, having been designated a close contact of a confirmed case.

They are usually off school for around ten to 11 days as a result.

Each day, around 1,200 children are identified as close contacts and must be tested and restrict their movements.

The Irish National Teachers Organisation later called for the current protocols for children designated close contacts of a confirmed case to be maintained until overall numbers reduce further.

The union's General Secretary, John Boyle, said an easing of the measures at the end of September could be too early and said it would be "prudent to delay any change or review".

Mr Boyle also renewed his appeal to parents not to send children with any virus symptoms to school.

The Managing Director of Retail Excellence has welcomed the recommendation from NPHET.

Duncan Graham said the current requirements for children deemed close contacts has presented "some significant challenges" for businesses.

"These things tend to happen at a moment's notice, so it's difficult for the employees, who are parents themselves, having to make big changes at the last minute. And it's not easy to be telling an employer at the last minute, you can't go in."

He said "it's a difficult time for everybody when that sort of thing happens, so this recommendation will at least put us back onto a new footing, which is what we desire."

NPHET today also agreed that masks should not be required for children under 13 years of age, following advice from the Health Information & Quality Authority (HIQA).

The meeting also discussed a review of the evidence on antigen testing, conducted by HIQA.

The HIQA review sets out the circumstances where antigen testing may be useful.

It will now be up to various sectors, such as education, higher education and workplaces, to consider if they will add antigen testing to their Covid-19 mitigation measures.

Meanwhile, the Minister for Health has said that no decision has yet been made on the potential changes to the rules with close contacts in schools.

Speaking on RTÉ's Prime Time, Stephen Donnelly said the briefing today with NPHET was positive.

He said the initial signs are very encouraging that transmission in school is at the same or lower than in the community.

He said he would bring the information to Cabinet but that it could mean that in most cases where children in primary school were deemed close contacts, contact tracing and ten days out of school would no longer be required.


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The NPHET position remains that antigen testing is not of benefit generally for screening people with no symptoms and that the health service has sufficient capacity for PCR testing.

From next Monday, there can be a return to the workplace for specific business requirements, on a phased and staggered basis.

Restrictions will be removed for outdoor group activities and organised indoor activities will have greater capacity.

Ireland is tracking well ahead of the most optimistic NPHET projections for Covid-19, including a model that predicted 3,000 cases a day, which has not yet materialised.

Hospital admissions, admissions to ICU and deaths are below what was projected for the July to September period.

The latest figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre show there were 11 deaths related to Covid-19 in the week to last Tuesday.

The deaths were notified with a date of death during the week in question.

The mean age was 79 years. The deaths include confirmed, probable and possible.

Of the 5,179 deaths to date since the start of the pandemic, over 94% have been confirmed to be due to Covid-19, while 3.4% are possibly linked and 1.8% are probably linked to the disease.

The person who died had an underlying condition in over 87% of these cases.

There were 18 deaths in July, 67 in August and there have been 45 deaths reported so far this month.

The Department of Health today confirmed 1,413 new cases of Covid-19.

There are 290 people in hospital who have tested positive for the disease, down two since yesterday. Of these, the number receiving treatment in intensive care has increased by two to 67.

Additional reporting Fergal O'Brien, Emma O Kelly, Samantha Libreri