Rise in Covid case rates among children and teenagers – Public Health England

Jess Glass, PA
·3-min read

Case rates of Covid-19 in England have risen among children and teenagers, the nation’s public health body has said.

In its latest weekly surveillance report, Public Health England (PHE) said that the rate for 10 to 19-year-olds stood at 100.7 cases per 100,000 in the seven days to March 21.

This was the highest rate among the age groups and was up week-on-week from 79.7.

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Among five to nine-year-olds, the case rate rose from 39.9 to 63.5 per 100,000. But for children aged four and under, the rate had fallen from 34.9 to 32.4.

All other age groups had shown a week-on-week drop in rates.

The weekly data comes as around one in five people aged 16 to 49 in England are likely to have had their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

NHS England figures suggest an estimated 22.2% of people in this age group had received their first jab by March 21.

The figures also suggested an estimated 87% of people aged 50 and over in England had received their first dose by the same date.

Currently, only children at very high risk of severe infection are offered a jab.

PA infographic showing people aged 16-49 who have received first dose of Covid-19 vaccine
(PA Graphics)

Oxford University is carrying out a clinical trial on children aged six to 17 to test the safety and efficacy of its vaccine in younger age groups, with initial results expected in the summer.

But Professor Adam Finn, of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said on Wednesday that no final decisions had been made about vaccinating youngsters.

PHE’s weekly surveillance report also showed that Covid-19 case rates appeared to be levelling off in some regions of England, although Yorkshire and the Humber had recorded a slight rise.

In Yorkshire and the Humber, the rate of new cases stood at 110.4 per 100,000 people in the seven days to March 21.

This was the highest in the country and up from 109.8 in the previous week.

Some regions have had broadly unchanged week-on-week rates, including the East Midlands (down from 77.8 to 76.8), Eastern England (down from 45.7 to 43.8), South East England (down from 35.6 to 34.2) and the West Midlands (down from 66.7 to 65.4).

NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens
NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens has suggested the health service’s coronavirus alert level should be reduced (Jacob King/PA)

All other regions had recorded a small week-on-week fall.

The chief executive of NHS England said on Thursday that the health service’s coronavirus alert level should go down due to “reduced acute pressures”.

Sir Simon Stevens said the health service’s Emergency Preparedness, Resilience and Response (EPRR) coronavirus alert level should be reduced from four to three.

During an NHS England board meeting, Mr Stevens said: “We had over 34,000 severely ill coronavirus patients in our hospitals in mid-January.

“That number is now 4,000 and although that is still about 400 more Covid patients than we had this same day a year ago, nevertheless that very sharp decrease in the number of patients with Covid in hospital is a consequence of both declining infection rates across the community and the impact that’s now being felt from the vaccination programme.”