Routine Covid-19 contact tracing will end next month in Ireland under plans being drawn up by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet).

The Irish Times understands that most tracing of adult cases’ contacts would end on October 22nd under the proposals to be considered by Nphet.

Under the proposed change, public-health specialists could still trigger contact tracing following a risk assessment of a particular case or cluster of cases. However, routine use of contact tracing would end.

Nphet members plan to monitor this week’s decision to end contact tracing of asymptomatic cases in the classroom before making a final decision to end contact tracing of adult cases.

Travel-related cases are also being monitored following the decision earlier this month to end flight contact tracing.

‘Normality’

There is confidence that the infection rate among primary schoolchildren will not rise over the coming weeks based on current incidence rates, despite the decision to allow close contacts not showing symptoms to attend school.

The State’s contact-tracing operation is large, with almost 1,000 people employed in the Health Service Executive. In mid-August, the operation involved contacting more than 13,000 cases a week, with 31,000 close contacts notified to staff.

The plan to end most contact tracing is part of wider move towards normality in this phase of the pandemic, when more than 90 per cent of the population is largely protected against Covid-19 through vaccination or previous infection.

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October 22nd is earmarked as the day that most remaining Covid-19 restrictions will end or lift, provided the incidence of the virus remains stable or is falling.

Separately, the HSE has confirmed that more than 70 per cent of residential care facilities have ceased serial testing of staff and residents.

Some 435 out of 616 nursing homes and other residential care facilities have been removed from the serial testing programme, according to a spokeswoman.

The facilities have confirmed that at least 80 per cent of staff and residents are vaccinated, in line with Nphet criteria for exiting the programme, and that they were free of Covid-19 outbreaks.