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Covid-19 Extra Measures for Children Loom As Concern Turns To New Variant

The federal government will think about new measures on Friday to limit indoor gatherings and introduce face masks to college students aged 9 and older.

Ministers are involved in regards to the variety of Covid-19 instances earlier than Christmas and the emergence of a brand new Covid variant that’s spreading in South Africa that would cut back vaccine effectiveness and jeopardize efforts to fight the pandemic.

In a press release on Thursday night time, the Ministry of Well being stated: “To date, no instances of this variant have been reported in Europe, however, the well-being minister is deeply involved.”

It stated the division has been monitoring the emergence of the brand new B.1.1.529 variant in the latest days, and the World Wellbeing Group (WHO) is assembly on Friday to additional assess its significance.

This variant has been recognized in a number of international locations in southern Africa and Hong Kong, however, the ministry famous that “WHO has not but described this variant as a variant of the priority”.

The UK suspended prevention in South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini, and Zimbabwe from Friday at midday.

Present journey recommendation from the Ministry of International Affairs “now not advise towards the non-essential journey to South Africa as a result of the present evaluation of the dangers of Covid-19.”

A ministry spokesman stated it was not anticipated to replace journey recommendation on Thursday night time.

Following a gathering on Thursday, the Nationwide Emergency Public Wellbeing Staff (Nphet) suggested the federal government keep away from indoor gatherings for youngsters for the subsequent fourteen days. This consists of occasions akin to nativity scenes, in a single-day stay, birthday events, and recreation dates.

A letter to Wellbeing Minister Stephen Donnelly additionally states that the chief medical officer, Dr. Tony Holohan, really useful that youngsters aged 9 and older put on masks in class and different indoor areas and on public transportation, as is at the moment the case with folks 13 and older.

Nphet additionally recommends extending the Covid Go requirement to different indoor areas, akin to gyms and hairdressers.

The measures might be thought about by Mr. Donnelly and his Authorities colleagues at present.

It’s understood that Net is not going to resolve to advocate additional restrictions till the subsequent week, as extra knowledge can be found on whether or not the variety of instances and hospital admissions are stagnating, as advised by some officers and ministers.

“This would be the most severe assembly if the numbers do not go down,” stated a high-level supply, suggesting that if that occurred, there could be a sequence of stricter restrictions at play within the run-up to Christmas.

In a press release final night time, Dr. Holohan stated that the speed of Covid-19 infections had remained “worryingly excessive” and known as on folks to scale back their social contacts within the coming weeks.

He additionally stated that individuals ought to “be attentive to their contacts within the days after socializing and particularly take into account anybody who could also be immunocompromised or vulnerable to Covid-19.”

He spoke when HSE intensified its planning to vaccinate youngsters aged 5 to eleven after the EU Drug Organization authorized the usage of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for this age group.

The European Medicines Organization (EMA) has authorized the usage of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine in youngsters aged 5 to 11 at a decreased dose than in adolescents and adults.

The transfer paves the way in which for Eire’s Nationwide Advisory Committee on Immunization to assess the introduction of the vaccine for youngsters right here. Particular vaccines for youngsters should not anticipate being delivered in Eire till around 20 December, and it’s thought-about unlikely that the vaccine might be given to main faculty youngsters right here earlier than the brand new yr.

Paul Reid, the managing director of HSE, stated he welcomed the EMA’s resolution. “We perceive that these vaccines might be administered all through Europe by the tip of December. So what we’ll do within the meantime is mobilize a plan and the channels we’d use to organize to vaccinate these youthful age teams,” he stated.