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Students have highest Covid infection rates after health workers in third wave

Students and schoolchildren over 16 account for 6pc of reported coronavirus infections


Health staff account for the greatest number of people who have developed Covid-19. Photo: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

Health staff account for the greatest number of people who have developed Covid-19. Photo: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

Health staff account for the greatest number of people who have developed Covid-19. Photo: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

Students, including schoolchildren aged 16 and over, had one of the highest rates of Covid-19 infection during the pandemic’s third wave, according to figures obtained by the Irish Independent.

Data reveals 6,701 or 6.04pc cases were in the category of students including schoolchildren.

The figures released by the Department of Health relate to the 135,565 confirmed cases of Covid-19 notified to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) between November 19, 2020 and February 8.

Of those, 112,278 were aged between 16 and 67 – when active employment is most likely.

Within this cohort, 1,396 people indicated that they were not currently employed for a variety of reasons, which included sickness.

Occupational data for the remaining 110,882 confirmed Covid-19 patients, aged between 16 and 67 years, was broken down in relation to sectors of employment on the HPSC’s computerised infectious disease reporting system.

It shows that 14,786 people, or 13.3pc, were in the health and related workers category.

In terms of ranking from highest to lowest, the health worker category was followed by students including schoolchildren. Teachers accounted for 1,796 cases, or 1.62pc.

Food, drink and tobacco production workers make up 2,060 (1.86pc), while workers who fell under the sales occupations category and have been infected account for 2,023 (1.82pc).

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A total of 68,647 (61.91pc) did not include employment data and were listed as occupation unknown.

Elsewhere, cases of Covid-19 in those who have business and commerce occupations represent 1.66pc of workers who were infected, while building and construction workers make up 1.58pc of cases.

Clerical and office workers made up 1.57pc of cases, while other professional workers account for 1.39pc.

Members of An Garda Síochána accounted for 425 cases (0.38pc) and Army occupations 0.14pc with 160 recorded infections.

Occupations with the lowest number of infections include central and local government workers, with 42 recorded, as well as religious occupations (28).

A recent report from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control found workers in occupations which bring them in close physical proximity to other people – co-workers, patients, customers – are more exposed to and at a higher risk of contracting Covid-19 in the absence of mitigation measures.

This was particularly the case “when working in indoor settings or with shared transport or accommodation”.

In a statement, the Department of Health said the data had been extracted on February 9 and “case details may be updated at any time”.

A department spokesperson added: “During a period between late December 2020 and early February 2021, due to the surge of Covid-19 cases notified, data quality may have been impacted and this may have resulted in a higher proportion of cases where the occupation is listed as unknown.”

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