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Parents of children who cannot self-isolate must stay at home for 17 days

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'Professor Martin Cormican, HSE clinical lead on infection control, has suggested contract tracing should still be carried out even if someone who tests positive, or their close contacts, were all wearing face masks at the time.' Photo: Liam Burke/Press 22

'Professor Martin Cormican, HSE clinical lead on infection control, has suggested contract tracing should still be carried out even if someone who tests positive, or their close contacts, were all wearing face masks at the time.' Photo: Liam Burke/Press 22

'Professor Martin Cormican, HSE clinical lead on infection control, has suggested contract tracing should still be carried out even if someone who tests positive, or their close contacts, were all wearing face masks at the time.' Photo: Liam Burke/Press 22

Families who have a child with Covid-19 who cannot self-isolate need to restrict their movements for 17 days, according to new guidance.

It would mean neither parent could go to work for that period.

The guidance from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre recognises young children with the virus can find it difficult to self-isolate because of their age.

It says "if a child with Covid-19 can't be isolated at home and there is an ongoing exposure risk, household contact should restrict movements for 17 days" from the onset of the child's symptoms or the date of their positive test if they are asymptomatic.

The guidance leaves parents with another headache if their child catches the virus.

If a child is sent for a test, the whole household should restrict their movements until the result is known.

Meanwhile, Professor Martin Cormican, HSE clinical lead on infection control, has suggested contract tracing should still be carried out even if someone who tests positive, or their close contacts, were all wearing face masks at the time. Face masks did not necessarily downgrade the public health risk enough for contact tracing to be ceased in cases outside healthcare settings.

"At present I do not believe there is a good evidence base or consensus of expert opinion to routinely accept use of face coverings by either the infectious person or by people exposed to the infectious person as a factor in downgrading the public health risk assessment of risk of infection for persons exposed outside of the healthcare setting," Prof Cormican said in a draft internal memo.

"This should not limit the discretion of a public health specialist to make exceptions to this general approach in the totality of the risk assessment in a specific situation," he said.

"If it is possible to collect and analyse data on the retrospective self-reported use of face coverings in the context of contact tracing, it may be possible to build an evidence base for more general use of this as a variable in the future."

A spokeswoman for the HSE said: "The text forms one part of a draft paper prepared by Prof Cormican as a basis for discussion with a group of senior medical professionals with a view to developing a HSE position on the issue of face mask, face covering and visors in non-healthcare settings as it relates to contact tracing.

"The draft paper has no immediate impact on the contact-tracing process but is intended to contribute to defining an agreed position that will inform and enhance some details of the contact tracing process. Public health advice remains the same regarding face coverings.

"All members of the public should wear a face covering in enclosed public spaces as it reduces the spread of coronavirus in the community."

Irish Independent