After data that showed an increase in the number of children being admitted to hospital, rumours have circulated on social media suggesting that Omicron’s variant of Covid might be more severe among children.
The concern was exacerbated last week when it was revealed that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s six-week-old daughter Romy had suffered ‘quite badly’ with Covid, although she is now reported to be on the mend.
The majority of children hospitalised in the last month were under the one-year mark, according to data.
However, experts advise parents not to panic because the vast majority of these children do not have serious illnesses and are only being admitted as a precaution.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s six-week-old daughter Romy had suffered ‘quite badly’ with Covid, although she is now reported to be on the mend
Professor Calum Semple, a child health and infectious disease expert at the University of Liverpool, says: ‘These are not particularly sick infants. In fact, they’re coming in for short periods of time.’
Omicron may result in more children being admitted to hospital than Delta because it has a greater effect on the upper lungs.
This can cause children to cough repeatedly and make a rasping sound when breathing – symptoms that can be mistaken for croup, a normally mild and common childhood condition that affects the airways.
Sources said Romy, pictured below with Wilfred (age 20 months), had experienced the virus “quite badly” at five weeks old but is now “on the mend”.
Downing Street reported last week that one of Boris Johnson’s relatives had been tested positive for Covid. His daughter Romy, pictured left with Carrie and Wilf.
‘Parents may bring children to hospital just in case, because they’re worried,’ says Dr David Strain, Covid lead at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust.
‘But the babies end up being admitted for a very short period as a precaution.’
Expert in paediatric infectious diseases at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust Dr Alasdair Mouro says there has been an increase in children who are being admitted to hospital. This is because they have not yet received their vaccines.
He adds: ‘The shifting proportions of admissions are likely due to differences in population immunity between age groups.’