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low transmission Almost 21,000 children and young people infected with Covid-19 – but no school surge

Figures come amid sharp focus on transmission of Covid-19 among children and teens following gradual reopening of schools

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Stock image. Photo: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

Stock image. Photo: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

Stock image. Photo: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

Almost 21,000 children and young people have been diagnosed with Covid-19 this year and 243 of these were hospitalised.

From January 1 until April 7, there were 20,795 cases of the virus among people aged 18 and under in Ireland.

With schools reopening in the past month, there has been a sharp focus on transmission of Covid-19 among children and teenagers.

But experts noted that levels of the virus in children were below the overall average positivity rate for Ireland.

“There has been no spike in numbers since kids have returned to school, which is very reassuring,” Professor of Immunology and Associate Dean for Research at DCU, Christine Loscher said.

Out of four age categories, the 12- to 17-year-old cohort was most affected in terms of overall case numbers.

There were 7,688 cases in this age group and 80 hospitalisations.

The second-highest number of cases was among the four- to 11-year-olds. There were 7,341 cases in this age group with 53 hospitalisations.

Meanwhile, there were 3,665 cases among those aged three and under.

There were 95 children in this youngest age category hospitalised during the period in question, more than any other cohort.

Eighteen-year-olds at third level had 2,101 cases in the period to April 7.

There were only 15 hospitalisations for Covid-19 in this age group within the time period.

Eight children were treated in intensive care.

There were fewer than five deaths during this period across all these age groups, according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) data.

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Prof Loscher said looking at the data for children, it could be concluded that the number of cases is lowest in children under the age of four.

She added: “The number given for primary versus secondary school (cases) are almost identical.

“This may suggest that the case rate is similar between these age cohorts.

“Although, we don’t have the incidence rate, if we do a rough calculation and take these numbers as a percentage of the number of children estimated to be attending primary and secondary school, then the percentages of children in these cohorts are higher in the 12-17 age range.

“This is to be expected, given that with the age of these children, they are more likely to mix outside of the school environment.

“However, both these percentages are below the current positivity rate in Ireland.”

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