As schools and childcare facilities reopen after Christmas, parents are being advised to keep children at home if they are displaying new symptoms of illness.
Flu, COVID-19 and RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus) accounted for more than 1,200 hospitalisations last week.
The Chief Medical Officer Professor Breda Smyth is urging parents to continue to be mindful of others when their children are sick.
The reopening of schools and childcare facilities this week creates an environment for increased respiratory virus transmission. This is placing significant pressure on healthcare resources, particularly hospital Emergency Departments and GP services.
Prof Smyth said: “As schools and childcare facilities re-open after the Christmas break, I am urging parents to be vigilant for symptoms of respiratory viruses in children.
“If your child has any new-onset ‘flu-like symptoms such as congestion, cough, runny nose or high temperature, parents should continue to be mindful of others and, if possible, keep their children at home from school or childcare facilities.
“Children should be kept at home for at least 48 hours after their symptoms have fully or substantially resolved.
“The vast majority of respiratory illnesses can be treated successfully at home with over-the-counter medication. There is very good advice on the HSE website undertheweather.ie. However, parents should trust their instincts and seek medical attention if required.”
Those with any new ‘flu-like symptoms should also stay at home to avoid spreading infection to other potentially more vulnerable people.
This year’s ‘flu season has not yet peaked, and there is still time for people to avail of a protective vaccine which takes two weeks to become fully effective.
Prof Smyth said: “As we are still in the middle of ‘flu season, I am appealing to parents to please consider the ‘flu vaccine for your child. It’s a nasal spray and is administered free of charge by GPs and pharmacists.
“I would also encourage people to keep up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines and please make an appointment for a booster if you are eligible.”