Covid outbreaks in Calderdale's children settings top 100 as borough warned virus is not going away

COVID-19 outbreaks in Calderdale children’s settings number more than 100 at this time and the virus is not going away, scrutiny board members heard.

By John Greenwood - Local Democracy Reporter
Friday, 21st January 2022, 7:30 am
Pupils testing themselves for Covid
Pupils testing themselves for Covid

Consultant in Public Health, Ben Leaman, said at this point in time there were 120 outbreaks in children’s settings, meaning education or early years.

Public Health staff were spending a lot of time supporting settings and taking action with regard to outbreaks, he said.

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Measures being taken went further than national guidelines because it was the right thing to do in Calderdale and made a difference to keeping as many children in school as possible, Mr Leaman told Calderdale Council’s Children and Young People’s Services Scrutiny Board.

Mr Leaman said the situation had continued to be “frenetic” as just when things seemed calmer another variant of COVID had arrived.

The current COVID position, he said, was “it’s not going away”.

Public Health expected it to “wax and wane” a bit over the coming months but it was not the end of it.

Me Leaman said the disruption the virus caused over the last two years had affected the development of young people and their future opportunities because education was a key driver of life settings, getting a good job in good careers, and there was work to do to catch up.

Starting well, from pre-pregnancy up to going to school, were important for children and a partnership approach to achieving this was taken, including tackling gaps that appear early in childhood relating to inequalities, said Mr Leaman.

At the other end of childhood, partners worked to ensure young people moved to adulthood in as healthy a way as possible.

Coun Ann Kingstone (Lab, Skircoat) asked if Calderdale had experienced any child deaths from COVID and about how children might be affected by long COVID.

Mr Leaman said Calderdale had not seen any child deaths, for which the borough was grateful.

Nationally, child deaths from COVID were low and usually involved severe underlying health conditions so on balance there was relatively low risk to children from the virus.

In terms of numbers impacted by long COVID, Public Health did not have the evidence at this time although some modelling had been done which could be shared with the board.

It was quite hard to estimate because children were catching COVID all the time, said Mr Leaman, and hard to define.

“We need to take all the measures we can to make sure children with long COVID can return to school as soon as possible,” he said.

One of the pivotal measures schools should take was opening windows for ventilation to help disperse the virus.

Advice to schools was to leave windows open and in some cases fitting special air filtration units, said Mr Leaman.

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