Covid crisis: NPHET wants children over nine to wear masks

The wearing of masks for primary school children from third class upwards has been recommended by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).

A recommendation has also been made that children aged nine and over wear masks on public transport and public settings where the rule currently applies for those aged 13 and over.

NPHET has proposed that children avoid community gatherings for at least the next two weeks, including nativity performances and other comparable seasonal events.

The move comes after the European Medicines Agency earlier approved the use of Pfizer-BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine for children between the ages of five and 11.

Meanwhile, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre has today been notified of 4,764 confirmed cases of Covid-19.

As of 8 a.m. today, 598 patients were hospitalised, 126 in ICU.

Dr. Tony Holohan, chief medical officer, Department of Health, said: "Incidence of Covid-19 remains concerningly high, with 62,401 cases reported in the last 14 days.

"We need to continue to make every effort we can to drive down incidence of disease and break the chains of transmission.

"Covid-19 spreads when an infected person is in close proximity to other people. The best way we can stop Covid spreading to the people we meet is by meeting fewer people and avoiding crowds.

"If you are socialising, think about the risk associated with the activities you have planned."