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More than 6,000 children tested positive for Covid in first week of November


More than 6,000 children and teenagers tested positive for Covid-19 in the first week of November, the latest figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) have shown.

There were 978 confirmed cases in the up-to-four age group, 3,394 cases in the five-12 age group and 1,658 in the 13-18 age group.

Cases in five- to 12-year-olds represented 14 per cent of all cases between October 31st and November 6th.

A 14-year-old died as a result of Covid-19 in the week between November 3rd and 9th, the youngest person in the State to die with the virus. The teenager was one of 25 people who died from Covid-19 in that week.

No details about the 14-year-old have been provided by the HPSC or the Health Service Executive (HSE). The teenager was one of six people under the age of 25 to have died in the State from Covid-19 during the pandemic to date.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 369 babies and children (aged up to four years) have had to be treated in hospital for the virus as well as 273 children aged between five and 14 years, according to the State’s Covid-19 data hub.

Eilísh Hardiman, the chief executive of Children’s Health Ireland, has warned that double the number of babies are expected to contract respiratory illnesses this winter.





Confirmed cases in hospitalConfirmed cases in ICU


543


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Speaking on RTÉ Radio’s Today with Claire Byrne programme, Ms Hardiman said that last year there were no RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) cases among children because of lockdown but that it was anticipated that the cases would double this year because babies had not built up immunity.

“There will be a double whammy, a second wave,” she said.

The system was already under severe pressure, especially in emergency departments at children’s hospitals, Ms Hardiman said, adding this meant elective procedures were being cancelled.

The number of attendances at children’s emergency departments during October 2019 was 11,700, she said, but in October this year that figure rose to 19,845. “That is a massive increase.”

Although there had never been more than single-figure cases of Covid among children hospitalised, restrictions and therefore delays occurred because their parents could catch Covid, she said.

“We have a capacity issue. All our beds are full at the moment because of the need for respiratory care,” she said, adding that waiting lists had deteriorated. “We will never have a zero waiting list.”

More resources

Ms Hardiman said investment was needed as well as extra beds and staff. She said CHI had plans ready to go once investment was received but that it would still be 2½ years before the new children’s hospital was completed. She pointed out the Temple Street hospital building was 182 years old.

CHI was not happy about waiting lists for children, and access to care was its priority, she said, adding: “But we cannot magic up facilities.”

CHI had to plan ahead to identify bottlenecks, but in the meantime it had to deal with the constraints, which “we’re trying to address”, she said.

“The system is under pressure, we need new resources and new plans. We’ve outlined what we can do.”

The latest HSE figures showed there were 528 people in hospital with Covid-19 on Thursday night, with 96 of those in intensive care. The Mater hospital in Dublin has the highest number of Covid-19 patients with 57, followed by St James’s hospital (49) and Beaumont hospital (43).

There is one child with the virus being treated in Crumlin’s children’s hospital as well as another being cared for in Temple Street hospital. No children are being treated for the virus in Tallaght children’s hospital.

A further 3,680 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in the State on Thursday.




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