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ONS: 13% of all children aged 2-11 have Covid

ONS: 13% of all children aged 2-11 have Covid

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics Covid-19 infection survey have laid bare the extent of Covid-19 cases in children, particularly those of nursery and primary school age.

Figures for the week ending 29 January show 13% of children aged from two to those in year 6 – the final year of primary school – had Covid-19.

For those in school year 7 to year 11, the rate of infections was 7.6%, equivalent to around one in 15 older children, the ONS figures showed.

This compares with one in 20 people infected in England overall with an estimated 2.6 million infections.

Similar rates were seen in Wales, with Scotland reporting Covid-19 infections in one in 30 people and one in 15 people infected in Northern Ireland.

Lowest rates of infections were seen in the over-70s with a rate of just under 2%, the ONS reported.

The latest figures from ZOE Covid study also suggest that daily symptomatic infections are rising once more in all age groups – although to a lesser extent in those over 55 years – reaching almost 200,000 a day.

Professor Tim Spector, lead scientist on the ZOE Covid Study, app said while it was bad news that cases were rising once more, it was good news that hospitalisations, ICU cases and deaths are still coming down ‘as Omicron is less severe in a vaccinated population’.

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But he said this would have to be watched closely and a rebound had happened before in the Delta wave as people relaxed and more children went back to school.

‘It seems many are, again, pre-empting the end of the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s much too early for this. High case rates will likely be with us until late spring before the warmer weather and the summer holidays help reduce infections again.’ 

Commenting on the ONS figures, Professor Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at The Open University, noted that the ONS estimates for age groups ‘are making it even clearer that the pandemic has now become much more an infection of children rather than of older people’.

‘The thing that concerns me most is the continuing increases in infection rates in children of school age and younger.

‘[The] infection rates for children remain really very high, and while very few of them will get really seriously ill, there are still consequences in terms of missing school time or infecting others who are more vulnerable.’

In December, the JCVI advised that children aged 5-11 who are in a clinical risk group or a household contact of someone who is immunosuppressed should be vaccinated against Covid.

GPs had been asked to identify eligible children by the end of January.

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