Meath creche shuts after children test positive for Covid-19

Meath creche shuts after children test positive for Covid-19
The community childcare facility in Meath

The Meath creche at the centre of five Covid-19 cases has now been temporarily closed following advice from local health authorities.

The closure occurs after three children and two staff members at the Daoine Oga Community Childcare Centre in Navan all tested positive for the Coronavirus in the last week.

Management had already closed three of the eight rooms at the facility but have shut the entire centre this morning in following with a recommendation from the public health officer The facility is to fully reopen on August 18th.

The three children who are siblings are asymptomatic while the two adults who tested positive showed very mild symptoms.

All children at the facility had been split into pods of up to eight children with two staff as part of Covid-19 measures since reopening in June.

Local Sinn Fein Cllr Eddie Fennessy is still awaiting results for his two-year-old son Ned who only got tested in a centre in Slane on Monday morning.

Little Ned has underlying health issues.

"It's a very worrying time for myself and Ned's mother as he has an underlying condition and has attended Temple Street and Drogheda hospitals since birth.

"The outbreak is in a creche where scores of children attend daily so the potential for mass transmission is high.

"I'm not qualified to give a medical assessment on how to manage a pandemic but I can tell you one thing for sure, it is downright dangerous for almost a week to pass before you test people who've been in direct contact with an infected person," he said.

Meanwhile, delays at testing some children at the centre have been described as 'concerning' by top immunologist with Maynooth University Professor Paul Moynagh.

"It is very concerning if direct contacts of confirmed cases are not being immediately contacted and tested as part of the test and trace system operated by the HSE," he said.

"If the test and trace system is not done with speed, it is wholly ineffective. Ideally, the time period from referral of a suspected case to test confirmation and tracing of contacts should be one to two days. Any period beyond this time loses effectiveness.

"A delay of a week in tracing of direct contacts leads to little or no value. During that week, an infected contact may have infected secondary contacts that in turn could have infected tertiary contacts.

"Recently we have been told, including at the Oireachtas Covid Committee, that we now have a robust test and trace system - this is not robust if there are delays of up to a week.

"We need to look beyond the metric of a number of tests being performed. If not done with speed, we are wasting an opportunity to suppress transmission of the virus and we are also wasting valuable resources."

CEO of the creche Marie Daly confirmed on Tuesday that she had closed the facility this morning following the advice and all parents and staff had been notified on Monday evening.

"Following advice from the Public Health Officer, we have closed the creche until August 18th and all parents and staff have been notified.

"We have always followed all guidelines and advice given to us from all the relevant bodies since the first staff member tested positive and we have always kept staff and parents up to date with the situation."

The results were described by Ms Daly as 'extremely devastating' after an investment of €10,000 in protective personal equipment and other Covid-19 measures at the facility.

"We have done everything we can to try and stop this virus coming into this building and the worrying thing is that all the children who contracted the virus are asymptomatic.

"Everyone is worried but the parents and pre-school inspectors have been extremely supportive to us.

"We really are all in this together. We can't deal with this on our own. Everyone has to take responsibility for themselves and we all have to be open and honest about it.

"On behalf of management and staff, we would like to thank our parents and to everyone across the community and the country in the sector for their outpouring of support. We've been inundated with messages."

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