IRELAND's Chief Medical Officer has moved to reassure parents as children return to school after the summer holidays.
This weekend, Dr Tony Holohan said Covid-19 transmission levels were "simply too high".
With more than 500 cases per 100,000 of the population over the past 14 days, the CMO said Ireland would be deemed a dark red country according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control's categorisation.
We continue to see levels of transmission of COVID-19 that are simply too high and would be categorised as a dark red country according to the ECDC.
It is important that we continue to follow the public health advice this weekend. pic.twitter.com/b8yJLZUdrm
— Dr Tony Holohan (@CMOIreland) August 28, 2021
However with many pupils already back at school as the holidays draw to a close, Dr Holohan stressed that schools are not a major source of disease transmission.
"This year, these preparations [for returning to school] are being made at a time when our country is experiencing a very high incidence of Covid-19," said Dr Holohan.
"It is important to remember that our experience to date is that the school environment was not a major source of disease transmission and that school reopening did not have a significant effect on the incidence of Covid-19 in children.
As of midnight, Saturday 28th August, we are reporting 1,706* confirmed cases of #COVID19.
As of 8am today, 347 COVID-19 patients are hospitalised, of which 60 are in ICU.
— Department of Health (@roinnslainte) August 29, 2021
"In fact, any increase in incidence among children is often linked to the events that occur around school as much as the events that occur within school."
He added: "It is important that we continue to socialise safely and continue to adhere to the public health measures we are all so familiar with and that our schools have successfully implemented… wash hands or use hand sanitiser, wear a mask if this is what is recommended in your school environment, keep your distance and avoid crowds."
He added that parents should not send their children to school if they are showing Covid-19 symptoms.
NI #COVID19 data has been updated:
📊1,225 positive cases and sadly, nine deaths have been reported in the past 24 hours.
💉2,440,759 vaccines administered in total.
The dashboard will be updated again on Tuesday 31 August 2021. pic.twitter.com/DzOvL5dX0h
— Department of Health (@healthdpt) August 29, 2021
The latest figures from the Department of Health show that as of midnight on Saturday, there were 1,706 new cases of Covid-19, down from 1,997 cases 24 hours earlier.
There are currently 347 Covid-19 patients in hospital, of which 60 are in intensive care.
Meanwhile in Northern Ireland, 1,225 new positive cases and nine deaths have been reported in the past 24 hours.
Similarly, that was down from 1,430 cases 24 hours earlier, although Friday also saw six Covid-19 deaths recorded.