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Surge in COVID-19 cases: Government may issue new guidelines for christenings, Communions and camps

DUBLIN: In view of the rising number of coronavirus infections in Ireland, the government is considering issuing special guidelines for performing religious ceremonies such as christenings, confirmations, and Holy Communions, as well as school camps.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that the government will write to NPHET requesting guidelines for the safe organisation of religious ceremonies and indoor summer camps such as LEGO, drama camps and even Gaeltachts.

Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tony Holohan advised parents not to take unvaccinated children into indoor settings. “People who are unvaccinated, including children, should continue to avoid high-risk, uncontrolled indoor settings,” he said.

“That includes indoor hospitality. I know this is a difficult message for people, particularly parents of unvaccinated children to hear, but if we stick with the public health measures, we can limit transmission of this disease and protect others,” the CMO added.

Dr. Holohan also warned the public to be cautious because a significant portion of the population has not yet been fully vaccinated.

At the same time, the Taoiseach and Tánaiste have said that children under the age of 12 are not required to be vaccinated or to have a PCR or antigen test performed.

At the same time, the Taoiseach and Tánaiste have said that children under the age of 12 are not required to be vaccinated or to have a PCR or antigen test performed in order to return home from holidays or to go out for family dinners at a restaurant. The views of the political leaders are completely contradictory to those of the Chief Medical Officer.

However, leaders advise children not to attend summer classes, schools or camps, dance classes, stage schools or coding workshops, or spend any time indoors with friends.

“The easiest thing to do in a pandemic is to shut the country down, or to fully reopen it, and the hardest thing to do is everything in-between,” Mr. Varadkar said.

The Tánaiste explained: “We will ask NPHET to review two things over the next two weeks. One is how we might safely provide for religious ceremonies over the summer, including christenings, confirmations and communions.

“We will also ask NPHET to look again at the issue of indoor summer camps and whether they could be done in September with the same precautions as we apply in schools.

“We are asking NPHET to consider both of those things and advise us on them within the next week or two.”

Mr. Varadkar said the problem here is the Delta variant of COVID-19. He also noted a rise in infections among children, including secondary school students, teenagers, and unvaccinated adults under the age of 35.

According to the latest figures from Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), 994 coronavirus cases were confirmed yesterday in Ireland. There are 80 COVID-19 patients in the hospital, 22 of them are in the intensive care unit.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said the number of cases in the country is expected to rise further and that 1,000 new patients could be added today.

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