Nphet Agrees To Recommend Further Lifting Of Restrictions On September 20
The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) has agreed to recommend that the government proceeds with its plan for a further lifting of COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions on Monday September 20, based on the latest data on the coronavirus.
As stated in the government's recently-unveiled new plan for reopening society, from September 20, a return to the workplace can begin on a "phased and staggered" basis, restrictions on indoor and outdoor group activities involving arts, culture, sports and dance classes will be lifted, and after-school activities will be permitted to resume.
As reported by rte.ie, 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 September, and Nphet agreed on Thursday September 16 that this change could be implemented if no significant in-school transmission is seen in the meantime.
Minister For Health Statements
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly reportedly said that no decision has been made yet on the potential changes to the rules regarding close contacts in schools, and, reportedly said on RTÉ's Prime Time television programme that the briefing with Nphet on Thursday September 16 was positive.
Donnelly reportedly said that the initial signs are very encouraging that transmission in school is at the same or lower than in the community, and that he will bring the information to Cabinet, but that it could mean that in most cases in which children in primary school are deemed close contacts, contact tracing and ten days out of school will no longer be required.
Masks For Children Under 13 And Antigen Testing
Nphet reportedly also agreed at the briefing on Thursday September 16 that masks should not be required for children under the age of 13, following advice from the Health Information & Quality Authority (HIQA), and discussed a review of the evidence on antigen testing conducted by HIQA.
The HIQA review reportedly sets out that the circumstances in which antigen testing may be useful, and it will reportedly now be up to various sectors, such as education, higher education and workplaces, to consider whether they will add antigen testing to their COVID-19 mitigation measures.
Nphet's position reportedly remains that antigen testing is not of benefit generally for the screening of individuals with no symptoms of COVID-19 and that the health service has sufficient capacity for PCR testing.
Ireland On Track For Additional Lifting Of Restrictions
The above news follows yesterday's news that Ireland's chief medical officer, Doctor Tony Holohan, has told the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health that Ireland is on track to proceed with the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions on October 22, as outlined in the aforementioned recently-unveiled new plan for reopening society.
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