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Nphet to consider wearing of masks for primary school children


Dr Ronan Glynn, deputy chief medical officer

Dr Ronan Glynn, deputy chief medical officer

Dr Ronan Glynn, deputy chief medical officer

Nphet will consider making it mandatory for primary school children to wear face masks.

Deputy chief medical officer Ronan Glynn said the formal advice is that children under 13 can wear a mask and should not be discouraged from doing so.

“This topic will be coming up for discussion at Nphet this week. I’m not necessarily anticipating a change but our expert advisory group is looking at this issue again,” he said.

This comes as the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) said it favours mask wearing for primary school children. Currently, all secondary school students must wear a face mask while at school.

Dr Glynn also said all parents who drop their children off at school should be wearing face masks and should not be congregating.

While Nphet expected to have 200 to 400 cases by the end of February, today’s cases reached nearly 700.

Dr Glynn said that “of course” Nphet would like to see fewer daily cases, but that “we are still making progress”.

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According to Professor Philip Nolan, chair of the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, at the current rate of decline of 2pc, it may take five to six weeks to get to 200 to 400 cases per day.

“For 200 cases per day, at 2pc per day, you’re looking at five to six weeks.”

He said that while he does not want to answer how long it may take to get to 10 cases per day, he said that “at the current rate of decline of 2pc per day, it may be a matter of months”.

According to Nphet, the spread of the British variant is one of the reasons that cases remain so high.

“The B117 is at 90pc, it can’t go any higher, really,” said Prof Nolan.

After a large anti-lockdown protest took place in Dublin over the weekend, Dr Glynn said that a “silent majority” of people agree with public health measures.

“The silent majority in this country are fed up, they’re annoyed they do not want this pandemic to be going on a day longer than it has to, but they’re sticking with it.

“That’s the message the majority need to hear and need to remember when they see the actions of what is a very small minority of people,” he added.

He said that there would have been people within that crowd who are “genuinely frustrated”.

“I’d ask them to reflect on what the population has done and the country as a whole has done over the past year, rather than focusing on the negativity.”

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