A record number of new Covid infections were reported today with the easily transmissible Omicron strain being named as the driving force for the surge – now the variant is having an unprecedented impact on Britain’s younger population
A total of 512 children were admitted to English hospitals with Covid-19 in the week leading up to Boxing Day, new figures show.
The Government’s coronavirus dashboard revealed 59 children aged under 5 were admitted to hospital between Christmas Day and Boxing Day alone.
A further 50 children in this age group were admitted to hospital in the previous 24 hours as speculation about the rule of six coming back into force next year arose.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid yesterday confirmed New Year’s Eve plans for those in England could continue undisrupted.
However, he, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other key health officials have been keen to stress the importance of exercising caution.
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Children are at a lower risk of contracting serious side effects from Covid-19 and therefore the rates of hospital admissions for younger age brackets tends to be lower.
From December 19 to 26, a total of 226 children aged 6 to 17 were admitted to hospital with Covid.
Over that same duration, 286 children under 5 were admitted to hospital.
This compares to 256 children aged 17 and under being admitted into hospital for the same week in November, 100 of which were under the age of 5 and 156 were aged six to 17.
Most children are currently unvaccinated – with Government advisers only last week saying vulnerable primary school kids should be offered a low-dose Pfizer vaccine.
An estimated 330,000 children are expected to fall into this category.
Children aged 12 and above are entitled to come forward to get their jabs.
However, only vulnerable children aged under 12 are currently entitled to receive a Covid vaccination.
A final decision on vaccinating all those aged 5 to 11 has not yet been made by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
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Last week, the JCVI’s chair of coronavirus immunisation Professor Wei Shen Lim said: “The majority of children aged 5 to 11 are at a very low risk of serious illness due to Covid-19.
“However, some 5 to 11-year-olds have underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk and we advise these children to be vaccinated in the first instance.”
The increase in the number of children being admitted into hospital with Covid has been reflected in a wider change with rates of hospital admissions rising.
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A total of 9,546 people in England have Covid-19 are currently in hospital – climbing 38% in a week according to NHS England.
The number of hospital admissions in England also soared by a massive 1,000 in a single day – with 8,474 patients in hospital yesterday.
In the so-called Omicron epicentre London – the rate of hospital admissions was even starker – rising 59% in a week.
However, these hospitalisations are still much lower than the peaks seen earlier this year.
The increase in children being admitted to hospital is not only evident in the UK.
A five-fold increase in pediatric admissions has been reported in New York City in December – with numbers doubling in Washington DC.
Across the US generally, the number of children being admitted to hospital climbed by 35% in the past week.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.