Three children test positive for Covid-19 at same creche where two staff members were confirmed with the virus

Louise Walsh

Three children have now tested positive for Covid-19 at a Meath creche, bringing the total number of cases at the facility to five.

The children, were confirmed with the virus on Sunday night after two members of staff at the Daoine Oga Community Childcare Centre in Navan tested positive last week.

A third room at the creche has now been closed and all parents of children in the remaining open units have been informed of the situation.

A total of eleven children have been tested so far after the two adult cases were diagnosed. Eight results were returned negative.

However some pre-school children in another pod at the creche are still waiting for results, leading to huge concern for parents.

Local Sinn Fein Cllr Eddie Fennessy only got a test for his two year old son Ned, who has an underlying health issue on Monday morning.

"We were told immediately last week by the creche that a member of staff had tested positive for Covid-19 and that Ned's room would be closed for 14 days and that his details were given to contact tracing who would be in touch with us," he said

"We have been self-isolating ever since.

"Last Friday, parents participated in a zoom meeting with creche management who reassured us that protocol was followed and they have done everything possible to keep us updated. Other parents on this call also mentioned they still hadn't been contacted either.

"Only on Sunday afternoon, did I receive a text from the HSE and a test was arranged for today (Monday).

"By the time Ned receives his results, almost seven days will have passed and he was in direct contact with one of the staff members who tested positive.

"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.

"If the Government is serious about reducing the risk of community transmission, they need to act faster. Track, trace and isolate is the surest method of identifying and isolating infections.

"The quicker we engage in that process, the easier it will be to manage localised outbreaks.

"Ned has an underlying health condition so contracting Covid-19 would cause serious implications and affect his long term health.

"To say I'm not happy with the HSE is an understatement. Every child who came into contact with an infected staff member should have been tested the day after the first confirmed case."

Marie Daly outside the An Daoine Oga facility in Navan. PHOTO: Seamus Farrelly

CEO of the creche Marie Daly confirmed on Monday morning that three siblings had tested positive with Covid-19 but refused to say their age or anything else that would identify them.

"I have closed another room at the facility and the parents of children in all other rooms which remain open have been informed of developments.

"We have followed all guidelines and advice given to us from all the relevant bodies.

"Eleven children have been tested so far and three siblings have proved positive for Covid-19. None of them are showing any symptoms of the virus.

"The results of seven staff have been returned as negative and there are about seven children to be tested in the coming days."

Children at the facility have been split into pods of up to eight with two staff members in each as part of Covid-19 response measures.

Two rooms were closed immediately after one member of staff tested postive last week, after complaining of a sore throat. Another staff member tested as a precaution in another room was also positive. Neither of the staff who tested positive had been in contact with each other either in or outside of work.

The second room had been closed due to staff member who had been 'floating' between two pods in the two rooms.

The third room was closed this morning due to the latest developments

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 responsiblity for themselves and we all have to be open and honest about it."

In a statement the HSE said it could not comment on individual cases or outbreaks as to do so would breach its duty of confidentiality to the individuals concerned.

"Maintaining confidentiality is not only an ethical requirement for the HSE, it is also a legal requirement as defined in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) along with the Data Protection Acts 1988-2018.

"In general when our Departments of Public Health respond to notified cases or outbreaks of Covid-19 they undertake a risk assessment of the situation and appropriate investigations are undertaken and control measures put in place.

"If Public Health determines there is an outbreak, an Outbreak Control Team is convened. It would then advise on control measures, which would include raising awareness of Covid-19, communicating to staff about infection prevention measures, social distancing in the workplace, and use of personal protective equipment.

"There is no delay in GP referred cases for testing."

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