Covid: We’re seeing very high case numbers among children

It is hard to believe we are nearly two years into the pandemic, writes Dr Tom Black.

It was around this time in 2020 that I first heard about a new virus in China.

I could never have guessed how much it would affect all of our lives. Thankfully, we are seeing a reduction in the number of patients in hospital or needing ICU treatment for Covid, and this is due to the success of the vaccination programme.

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It is never too late to get a vaccination and I would continue to encourage anyone who has not been vaccinated to get one or, if eligible, to get your booster. Slots are now also open for teenagers and vulnerable children.

We are still seeing very high case numbers among children. In the most recent case numbers, roughly a third of all cases were in children aged under 15.

I know schools are doing all they can to mitigate against spread but it is extremely hard.

Parents should keep their children off school if they are showing any of the following symptoms: a sore throat, a runny nose, cough or a temperature; they should also get a PCR test for their child. LFT tests should also be used before attending any large events or family gatherings.

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Our hospitals are still over capacity and staff off ill - both in hospitals and GP surgeries - with Covid and other illnesses is adding to the pressure.

There is now a huge level of unmet need, our waiting lists are getting longer and longer and it is critical that we now turn our attention to transforming and reforming our health service.

Tom Black is a GP based in Derry. He is also chair of the British Medical Association in NI.