THERE has been a small rise in the number of children admitted to hospital with Covid-19, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has reported. 

Early data shows that young children aged 0-5 who are hospitalised experience mild illness and are discharged after short stays in hospital.

However, the UKHSA said the early signals need further investigation before they can draw any conclusions about whether Omicron causes more severe illness in children.

Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Advisor at UKHSA, stressed that data continues to show COVID-19 poses a very low health risk to children and infants, despite the findings.

"We’ll be undertaking further analysis to investigate the small rise in the number of children admitted to hospital but currently, coronavirus (COVID-19) poses a very low health risk to children and infants," she said.

" Early data shows that young children who are hospitalised experience mild illness and are discharged after short stays in hospital."

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The updated risk assessment of the Omicron variant published on Friday includes indicators for infection severity in both adults and children.

Building from previous findings, there is now high confidence that the Omicron variant causes low severity of disease in adults and continues to show vaccine effectiveness against hospitalisation for Omicron remains high.

A booster dose was associated with a 74% reduced risk of hospitalisation in the first two to four weeks after vaccination, with the figure dropping to 66% 10 weeks or more after this dose.

When combined with vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic disease, the reduced risk of hospitalisation climbed to 92% two to four weeks after a third dose of the vaccine, down to 83% after 10 weeks or more.

There is further data showing that effectiveness against symptomatic disease is significantly lower compared to the Delta variant, and wanes more quickly.

Of symptomatic cases, loss of smell and taste was found to be more common in people who tested positive for Delta than those who had Omicron. 

HeraldScotland:

Susan Hopkins added: "This latest set of analysis once again demonstrates that a booster dose of the vaccine provides you with significant protection against hospitalisation from Omicron.

"Booster doses also increase the protection against symptomatic and asymptomatic infection which will reduce transmission in the population.

"While signs remain encouraging on Omicron’s severity compared with Delta, the high levels of community transmission continue and may cause pressures on health services.

"Getting your booster jab remains the most effective way of protecting yourself and others from infection and severe disease. While prevalence remains high, make sure to wear your mask in indoor settings and take a lateral flow test before meeting others. If you develop any symptoms, isolate immediately and get a PCR test."