Huge increase in child virus fear calls in South Tyneside

Reports of children with coronavirus symptoms in South Tyneside skyrocketed last month as the schools went back, new figures show.
Calls over virus fears in under-18s increased seven-fold last monthCalls over virus fears in under-18s increased seven-fold last month
Calls over virus fears in under-18s increased seven-fold last month

NHS England data shows 507 possible COVID-19 cases in the under-18s were logged on the NHS 111 service in the South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group area in September – seven times more than in August.

​It was the second-highest monthly total recorded for children – only behind the 516 who reported symptoms in March when the outbreak began.

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The vast majority – 75% – of reports were done through online assessments, with the remaining 25% over the phone.

The number of adult users logging symptoms also increased significantly between August and September – from 463 to 1,134.

Across England, the number of children being reported with symptoms rose from just 21,000 in August to 186,000 in September but experts say children remain relatively unaffected by Covid, despite the number with symptoms increasing by almost tenfold when term started.

Official guidance from the Department of Health and Social Care says parents should only book a test if their child has a high temperature, a new continuous cough, or a loss of smell or taste and do not need one if they have just a runny nose, are sneezing or are feeling unwell.

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An NHS spokeswoman said: “We encourage the public to continue to use NHS 111 as their first port of call for medical help, and stress the importance of following government guidelines on social distancing and hand hygiene to reduce the spread of the virus.”