School children Covid rates soar to record high with one in 20 infected

Pupils in classroom

Covid rates for secondary school pupils were the highest rate recorded in Norfolk for any age group since the pandemic began. - Credit: PA

One in 20 young people at secondary pupils are estimated to have had coronavirus last week, according to estimates.

It is the second week in a row that Covid rates among Norfolk school children hit a record high

Some 4.6pc of children in school years 7 to 11 are likely to have had Covid last week, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

In Norfolk the infection rate for among 10 to 14-year-olds was 1,857 cases per 100,000 population - six times higher than the infection rate for the UK as a whole across all age groups, which stands at just 332.

The figures are the highest rate recorded in Norfolk for any age group since the pandemic began. 

Professor Paul Hunter, from the University of East Anglia. Picture: UEA

Professor Paul Hunter, from the University of East Anglia. Picture: UEA - Credit: UEA

“At the moment it does look as though in that age group there has been a fairly dramatic increase,” said Professor Paul Hunter, from the University of East Anglia's Medical School.

He said an increase in secondary pupils taking lateral flow tests could be behind higher detection rates, pointing out numbers among primary school children was much lower.

All children aged 12 and over are now also able to have a first dose of the Covid vaccine, which means those in school years 8 to 11, as well as some in year 7, can get the jab.

Pupil taking lateral flow tests.

Secondary pupils have been taking lateral flow tests. - Credit: PA

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The secondary school age surge was described as "extraordinarily high" by Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at the Open University.

"The rate in that age group didn't start increasing really fast until roughly mid-September, so a little time after schools had reopened," he said.

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"It's true that children of these ages are very unlikely to get seriously ill if they are infected. But they can pass on the infection to others.”

Public Health England data shows Norfolk saw 933 cases recorded among children aged 10-14 in the seven days to September 28, the highest single week figure in a single age group and higher than among young adults during the Euros.

But Prof Hunter said despite increased numbers he saw no need for additional Covid restrictions.

“If you look at cases overall going back until August 1 numbers have been pretty level,” he said. “There is no obvious indication that schools going back actually increased the total number of cases.”

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