Covid cases among children are surging in the US as students head back to school

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As millions of children head back to school across the US, health experts are highlighting a troubling trend: hundreds of thousands of them are testing positive for Covid.

More than 250,000 children had new cases in the last week of August, the American Academy of Pediatrics said in a report published on Tuesday. That’s the highest weekly rate of new pediatric cases since the pandemic began, and it’s a 10% increase in two weeks.

With slightly more than 1m new Covid cases reported in the US during that period, that means one of every four new cases in the country was among children.

Children’s hospitals are straining under the spike in cases. About 2,500 children were hospitalized with Covid-19 in the week up to 6 September, which is also more than ever before, data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows.

A total of 750,000 children tested positive between 5 August and 2 September, the AAP said. In the same time period, 54,859 children were admitted to hospitals, according to the CDC.

Over the course of the pandemic, 5 million children in the US have tested positive for Covid-19 and at least 444 have died, the AAP said.

The CDC released a report on 3 September showing a fivefold increase in child hospitalization rates because of the Delta variant. The differences in children’s hospitalizations were even more startling when broken down by age. In the same June-August time period, hospitalizations were 10 times higher for children under the age of four and for those between the ages of 12 to 17, the report said.

Hospitalization was 10 times greater among unvaccinated than vaccinated children, the report said. In the US, children aged 12 and up are eligible for vaccination.

Photo: Students attend classes during the first day of school at Barbara Goleman Senior High School in Miami Lakes, Florida, USA. EPA-EFE/CRISTOBAL HERRERA-ULASHKEVICH

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