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Children are vulnerable to Covid-19 and face coverings should be compulsory in all schools

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Behind the mask: Wearing face coverings at school and creches could cut back on Covid infection for children. Photo: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Behind the mask: Wearing face coverings at school and creches could cut back on Covid infection for children. Photo: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

REUTERS

Behind the mask: Wearing face coverings at school and creches could cut back on Covid infection for children. Photo: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Children are an at-risk population and can spread the Covid-19 virus even if they themselves are not sick. Even though children are less likely to get sick from the virus, they are definitely not immune.

The evidence clearly shows that all people, regardless of age, can get infected. A recent study from South Korea found that while young children seem less able to spread the disease, children of 10 to 19-years-old spread the virus at least as well as adults do.

There has been a recent surge in the number of young children in Ireland contracting the coronavirus.

Newly released figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre show 10 more children under the age of four were diagnosed with Covid-19 over a three-day period last week. It brings the total number of children aged four or under to be diagnosed with the virus to 227.

Over the same three-day period last week, 14 children aged between five and 14 also tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in that age bracket to 395 since the outbreak began. In this demographic, two patients had been admitted to an ICU, though thankfully there have been no fatal cases.

Implementing face masks for secondary schools is necessary but at the same time, children in primary schools and creches should also be following this measure. In addition to hand hygiene and safe distancing, preparing the child to use face masks is strongly needed.

The American Academy of Paediatrics strongly endorses the use of safe and effective infection control procedures to protect children which includes the use of cloth face coverings. Children aged two and older have demonstrated they can be taught basic infection control skills (such as hand washing and physical distancing), including wearing a cloth face covering.

Hence, it recommends universal use of cloth face coverings by children aged two and older when they are at school, in child care, and other group settings.

North Rhine-Westphalia became the first federal state in Germany to introduce compulsory use of face masks in classrooms with the restart of schools after summer holidays. All pupils from year five onwards had to wear face masks on the entire school premises and also during lessons.

As a parent, I feel even a small risk is a risk and not worthy of taking until all known precautionary measures are in place.

Face masks have proven their worth and should be implemented in primary schools and creches as a mandatory measure at least in the early stage of reopening.

Other beneficial measures to consider include outdoor teaching settings and lunch breaks, alternative day teaching, once-a-week teaching with remote learning, etc.

Dr Aaisha Khan

Dún Laoghaire, Dublin

Democracies need to unite against dictators

John Hume, an icon for peace and peaceful dialogue, must be turning in his grave when he sees how countries are ripping themselves apart through the diminution of human rights, justice and equality.

In China, we see the treatment of the Uighur Muslim population and the pogroms being carried out by Xi Jinping and his allies in the name of communism.

Through its dictatorial regime, China had already suppressed Tibetan revolts during its annexation of this region in the 1950s.

There is no difference between Hitler's Nazi pogroms and Stalin's pogroms of the Jewish populations and the wholesale suppression of rights and mass deportations to concentration camps of the Muslim population in China. Different ideologies but same results.

In Belarus, Turkey, North Korea, South America and other places around the globe, dictatorial and autocratic regimes run at full tilt with the help of their security apparatus and the elite.

In America, the autocratic and corrupt regime of Donald Trump has shown us democracy is fickle if we are taken in by the grandiose promises, lies and attacks that are made to represent the truth.

In Lebanon, a country controlled by Hezbollah and the ruling sectarian elite, the explosion in Beirut port was the final straw for many.

Those of us who live in democracies who fortunately or naively don't see the wholesale suppression of human rights, or turn a blind eye, must support our brothers and sisters in far-off regions by demanding our governments not do business with countries who are not open and transparent.

Christy Galligan

Letterkenny, Co Donegal

Our Jadotville veterans deserve highest award

THE action of our soldiers at Jadotville will be recalled with the same admiration as accorded the Spartans at the Pass of Thermopylae - a handful of brave men, fighting against immense odds.

Our men deserve the highest bravery commendations for their legendary defence under dreadful circumstances in the Congo.

Why are those awards not forthcoming? Action, please, Minister of Defence.

Ted O'Keeffe

Ranelagh, Dublin 6

Hail rescue heroes of Galway Bay 'miracle'

WHAT can I say, a miracle happened out there on Galway Bay!

The bond between cousins and the bond between the community in troubled times flowed through every vein on Wednesday night.

I, a mother, tossing and turning in my bed, hoping against all hope!

The inner instincts of a father and a son as to the lie of the sea couldn't be made up.

Briseann an dúchas trí shuile an chait!

The hand above, parting the waters for them, reminding us of the parable.

And, oh, how wonderful was that moment!

All heroes of 2020.

Anna Casey Donohue

Kinvara, Co Galway

A good news story - but a warning nonetheless

The rescue of two young cousins off the coast of Galway was indeed a very good news story.

Being stranded at sea as the sun went down on Galway Bay on Wednesday evening must have been a very daunting experience for the young paddle-boarders.

It was then that their bravery, self-preservation and good decision-making kicked in, as they battled the elements through the dark night hours.

They stuck together and remained calm, knowing that help would arrive when daylight broke.

They held on to a lobster pot buoy for dear life off the coast of Inis Oirr.

And help duly arrived in the shape of an experienced local fisherman and his son, who had calculated the distance and direction the girls would have drifted from Furbo beach the evening before. A distance of 27km approximately.

That they knew the area well was key to this miracle rescue. So all's well that ends well.

But it is a timely reminder to all, both young and not so young, that the power of the sea can never be taken for granted and caution is paramount, particularly at this time of year, as so many tragedies in the past remind us.

Tom Towey

Cloonacool, Co Sligo

Salient points regarding senators' allowances

FURTHER to a recent article by Senan Molony (Irish Independent, August 12) and a letter (August 14) regarding the allowances paid to senators, the following salient points need to be highlighted:

The Parliamentary Standard Allowance is an annual payment, paid monthly in arrears; members have until January 31 of the following year to certify their expenditure and to reconcile attendance.

As 2020 is an election year, the requirement for recording attendance is prorated from the date of election or nomination of a member.

The relevant period, post-election, for the Dáil in 2020 is February 8 to December 31. The attendance requirement is 108 days.

The relevant period, post-election, for elected senators in 2020 is March 30 to December 31. The attendance requirement is 91 days.

For nominated senators, the relevant period is June 27 to December 31. The attendance requirement is 62 days.

Members that have moved from the office of minister to TD, TD to minister, and other variations, will have differing attendance requirements for the purposes of this allowance, according to the dates relevant to them.

Derek Dignam

Head of Communications, Houses of the Oireachtas Service, Dublin 2

Irish Independent