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No kidding Covid-19: 4,181 new cases amid concerns about transmission from kids

Leading infectious diseases consultant has said data shows that children now are as likely to transmit Covid-19 as adults.

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A leading infectious diseases consultant has said data shows that children now are as likely to transmit Covid-19 as adults.

Professor Cliona Ní Cheallaigh, who is a consultant in St James’s Hospital, said while children were less capable of carrying earlier variants of the virus, that is not the case with the Delta variant.

Latest figures show there have been 4,181 new confirmed cases of Covid-19. As of 8am today, 668 Covid-19 patients are hospitalised, of whom 125 are in ICU.

Prof Ní Cheallaigh said it is difficult to pinpoint if transmission in schools is driving the current Covid-19 wave but greater testing is needed in primary school settings.

“There’s been a lot of kids being tested, a lot of symptomatic kids and you’d have to infer that that’s the tip of the iceberg and there is an additional very large number of kids who haven’t had symptoms that have had it in the meantime.

“With the first waves, with the virus as it started, kids weren’t very good at transmitting it, but I think it looks with Delta it looks like they are as good at transmitting as adults are, so you’d have to assume that they are transmitting in the community,” she told RTÉ’s Brendan O’Connor programme.

Regarding the spread of the virus among children in primary schools, Prof Ní Cheallaigh said it is important to keep schools open, but key mitigation measures are missing.

“What can we do to reduce the risk in schools and that’s around ventilation and wearing masks in primary schools and vaccinating kids once that gets approval.

“I’m focusing on what we can do and one of the things we can do is put filters in classrooms and masks into classrooms,” she explained.

She argued a number of additional measures are urgently needed to suppress the current wave of the Covid-19 and to take pressure off the health service and protect patients.

They include increasing ICU capacity to deal with surges and a concerted effort to convince unvaccinated people to get the jab.

Prof Ní Cheallaigh argued there are sections of the population who are vaccine hesitant and must be engaged with more effectively.

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“We need to look at the groups who aren’t being vaccinated.

"Pregnant women [are] really likely if they get Covid to end up in ICU and that’s disastrous for mum and babies. So really, we need to support pregnant women in feeling safe to get vaccinated,” she added.

Prof Ní Cheallaigh said there is “no issue” with pregnant women who have been vaccinated, but there is a “massive issue” when pregnant women get Covid, both for the mothers and babies.

Prof Ní Cheallaigh’s comments comes as the Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan has warned that the current level of Covid-19 in Ireland is having a negative impact on the health of the general public and placing an “enormous burden” on the entire health system – “from public health to general practice to our acute hospitals."

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