Sharp increase in Covid-19 infections in children since June 30
With schools starting to reopen after summer vacation, several concerns have been raised about whether it is safe for children to return to classrooms, particularly those in high school. Since the end of June, the number of Covid-19 infections in children of all ages increased significantly, with the total number of infections among teenagers aged 15 to 19 showing almost a four-fold increase, according to figures from public health institute RIVM. No children died from the viral infection during that period.
Between June 30th and August 18th, the number of 15 to 19 year olds diagnosed with a coronavirus infection rose from 311 to 1,524. At the end of June, three teens in this age group were hospitalized. That increased to five by August 18. In pre-teens and teens between the ages of 10 and 14, infections increased by 169 percent from 164 on June 30 to a total of 441 on August 18. Only one child in this age group was hospitalized in that period.
The number of infections were lower among younger kids, though they still showed a notable rise. On August 18, 200 children between the ages of 5 and 9 had been infected with coronavirus since early May, a figure which was at 87 on June 30. Among babies and toddlers aged 0 to 4, total infections increased by 62.5 percent, from 80 to 130. While the number of infections was lowest among the youngest group, they were also hospitalized due to the virus most often. From May 4 through the end of June, seven were hospitalized with a Covid-19 infection. In the six weeks that followed, three more children in this age group were in the hospital.
Schools in the Nederland Noord region were the first to reopen their doors after summer vacation on Monday. Unlike before the summer, pupils in both primary and secondary education have to go to school five days a week again. And pupils in secondary education no longer have to maintain social distancing with each other.
Karoly Illy, chairman of the Dutch Pediatric Association and member of the Outbreak Management Team (OMT), raised concerns about the lack of social distancing among teenagers, saying that these kids really need to keep at least 1 meter apart. The pediatricians are not afraid that the teens themselves will get ill, but that they will spread the virus to their parents, grandparents and teachers. "Now that the number of infections is increasing again, we must take timely measures to prevent young people from being blamed for new outbreaks. The very last thing we want is for schools to close again under social pressure. High school pupils have been at home for nearly six months. For them this really is a terrible situation. From a medical point of view, they hardly suffer from the virus, but socially they are by far the hardest hit."
Concerns were also raised about schools not having proper ventilation. Minister Arie Slob for Primary and Secondary Education opened a reporting point where schools can find information about this topic.