Northern Ireland news

Covid-19 cases at schools quadrupled in last two weeks

New figures reveal there were 6,657 cases recorded in schools during the week ending January 23

CASES of Covid-19 among staff and pupils in schools in Northern Ireland have almost quadrupled in the last two weeks.

New figures show there were 6,657 cases recorded in schools during the week ending January 23.

Among those testing positive for the virus were 5,955 pupils and 702 staff members.

The latest statistics reveal a massive increase in cases over the past fortnight, when a total of 1,736 staff and pupils tested positive on the week ending January 9.

The figures, which were released in the weekly epidemiological bulletin, also indicate a rise in cases in schools in just the past seven days, with the latest statistics showing a 31 per cent since January 16.

The number of pupils testing positive increased by 32 per cent over the past week, with teachers impacted rising by 24 per cent.

Primary schools appear to be the worst hit by the rising case numbers.

A total of 743 primary schools across the north had Covid-19 cases on the week ending January 23, as well as 192 post-primary and 38 special schools.

The NASUWT teaching union last night said it was "concerned but not surprised that the number of school Covid cases has quadrupled in the last two weeks".

Justin McCamphill, NASUWT National Official for NI, said: "While the Omicron variant, thankfully, does appear to be less harmful than previous variants, the health risk for teachers remains high given the sheer numbers being infected.

"Even if the sole concern of the department was continuity of education the current approach defies logic.

"Easing restrictions while cases rise exponentially is nonsensical and will have a long-term impact on the education of our children and young people.

"All non-business critical activities in schools by the Education Authority, Department of Education and Education and Training Inspectorate must be halted immediately while all activities which can be done from home must be done from home.

"This includes parents evenings, open nights and staff meetings.?"

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