The HSE is investigating the death of a four-year-old child in the Dublin region, with Strep A being one possible cause of death.
HSE Director of National Health Protection Dr Eamonn O'Moore said that Strep A is being investigated as one of the possible causes in the death of the child.
The HSE was currently reviewing the details of the child's death which he described as a terrible event.
Dr O'Moore told RTÉ radio'sthat Strep A was among other conditions being investigated as the cause of death.
More details will emerge over the course of the day, he added. Every care will be taken with due diligence as the laboratory process was time sensitive.
To date, there have been 55 confirmed cases of Strep A in Ireland, with two deaths — both elderly people.
Of the 55 cases 16 were paediatric.
There was an increase in Strep A cases this year, said Dr O'Moore. There were "lots of bugs circulating" so people should be mindful, observe respiratory etiquette and if ill should not be mixing with others.
On Tuesday a five-year-old child at a Belfast primary school, where a severe case of Strep A was reported last week, died.
Parents of the youngest pupils at Black Mountain Primary School received a letter from the Northern Ireland Public Health Agency on Friday to tell them a pupil had been diagnosed with a severe form of Strep A.
Although Group A Streptococcal infections including scarlet fever are common, the more serious invasive Group A Streptococcal infections – also known as “iGAS” – are rare.
The HSE said that during the pandemic, normal social mixing patterns were interrupted which led to changes in how diseases such as Strep A presented.
When asked about the case, Minister for Higher and Further Education Simon Harris said: “I need to be very careful on this because this is an issue that I haven’t been briefed on and I don’t want to put any information into the public domain that is wrong or ill-informed because I’m sure lots of parents are looking at media reports both in here in the Republic and also in the North.
“I’m sure (they) are very, very concerned and our hearts go out to those families involved.
“I’ve no doubt that the Minister for Health (Stephen Donnelly), the Department of Health, and our health and surveillance structures in this country will be monitoring the situation very closely and probably linking with their colleagues in the north as well.” He added: “I do know from my time in the Department of Health that there’s really well established linkages between the HSE and the Northern Ireland health services, very good exchange of information, very good interpersonal relationships as well.
“I have no doubt people will be working very, very closely and I think we can be proud in this country that our health service does a very good job in terms of giving public health information and surveying situations as they happen and I’ve no doubt as soon as they have more information that they will update the public and particularly parents and schools.”