The startling increase in the number of young children who’ve been treated in hospital for Covid in Swansea

The number of children being admitted to hospital with Covid in Swansea Bay has increased dramatically.

Almost as many children aged 15 and under have been in hospital with Covid-19 in Swansea Bay over the last three months compared with the whole of the rest of the pandemic.

So far, 93 children in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot have been ill enough to need inpatient treatment for Covid-19 since the pandemic began in March, 2020. But almost half of those, 45, have been admitted this July, August and up to September 24.

READ MORE: The areas of Wales where Covid is growing the fastest

The increase in paediatric admissions mirrors a steep rise in Covid community infection rates in comprehensive school age children in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot, currently running at one in 50 under-18s. You can read more stories about coronavirus here.

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Swansea Bay director of public health, Dr Keith Reid, said: “These cases demonstrate that children are not invulnerable to Covid-19, and can and do become ill from it.

“While children are much less likely than older adults to get seriously ill with Covid, it is noticeable and worrying that there is currently a spike in paediatric admissions. However, this is not surprising given that there has been such a big rise overall in the numbers of comprehensive school age children getting Covid in our region. Unfortunately, there is also an increase in younger primary age children now testing positive as well.

“Swansea Bay currently has some of the highest overall Covid-19 infection rates in the UK, and younger people – particularly under-18s – are now by far the biggest single group of confirmed infections.”

Infection rates in school age children are now three to four times higher than in any other age group, with around 500 youngsters infected in the last week.

The rise comes ahead of the health board starting to vaccinate 12 – 15 year-olds on Monday, October 4. Letters are being sent to homes with appointments at mass vaccination centres in Swansea and Margam. The health board is aiming to offer all young people within the age group an appointment letter by November 1.

To date, 3,237 people with Covid have been inpatients in Swansea Bay hospitals due to Covid.

During the first peak, March and April, 2020, there were 404 individual Covid patients in hospital beds. In the next peak, December, 2020 and January, 2021, there were 1099. In the latest peak, this August and up to September 24, the health board has treated 371 Covid-positive inpatients.

Swansea Bay currently has 65 confirmed Covid-19 cases in its hospitals, with nine people receiving critical care. This daily figure has been holding in the mid-60s for a couple of weeks

But the proportion of younger Covid-19 inpatients has risen dramatically during the current peak, compared with the two earlier peaks in the pandemic.

Find out about coronavirus cases in your area:

In the first two peaks of the pandemic, during March and April, 2020, and December, 2020 and January, 2021, around 3-4% of Swansea Bay inpatient cases were aged 16-29. But now, in August and September, the proportion of younger adults has quadrupled, making up between 13.7 -18.6% of cases on hospital wards.

By contrast, older adults, aged 50+ accounted for more than eight out of 10 Covid-19 inpatient cases in the first two peaks, but that proportion has dropped to around half.

The overall numbers of over 50s on Swansea Bay University Health Board wards have also fallen from 341 in March and April, 2020, to 895 in December and January, and to 213 in August and September, 2021.

Dr Reid added: “People are still being admitted with Covid-19, and some of them have been vaccinated. But that does not mean the vaccine isn’t working. On the contrary. Community infection rates in Swansea Bay are now as high as they were in the highest peak in December and January, but inpatient rates are about a third of what they were then. And of the people admitted, fewer need critical care.

“The difference in the proportion of younger and older inpatients in our hospitals since the vaccination programme began also demonstrates the protection the vaccine offers.

“The vaccination is not guaranteed to stop you getting Covid, but if you do, you are likely to get less sick. This is because the vaccine has already trained your immune system to fight the virus. These real-life statistics bear this out.”

Drop-in vaccination sessions are currently paused to accommodate vaccinating 12-15 year-olds, third doses for immuno-suppressed patients and booster doses, but people can still get a first dose appointment by phoning 01792 200492 or 01639 862323 between 9am-5pm, Monday – Saturday. Or they can email sbu.covidbookingteam@wales.nhs.uk

For more information on vaccinations for the 12-16 age group visit here.

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WalesOnline – Swansea