Boris and Carrie's daughter suffered 'quite badly' with bout of Covid

Experts warn parents not to panic about Omicron’s effect on children, after it was revealed Boris Johnson’s six-week-old daughter Romy suffered ‘quite badly’ with a bout of the virus

Rumours that the Omicron variant of Covid may be more severe in children have been circulating on social media in recent weeks, following data showing a spike in under-17s being hospitalised.

The concern was exacerbated last week when it was revealed that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s six-week-old daughter Romy had suffered ‘quite badly’ with Covid, although she is now reported to be on the mend.

Earlier this month, data showed that most of the rise in child hospitalisations has been in those under the age of one. 

But experts have urged parents not to panic, as the majority of these children are not seriously ill and are being brought in as a precaution. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s six-week-old daughter Romy had suffered ‘quite badly’ with Covid, although she is now reported to be on the mend

Professor Calum Semple, a child health and infectious disease expert at the University of Liverpool, says: ‘These are not particularly sick infants. In fact, they’re coming in for short periods of time.’

One reason why more young children may be hospitalised with Omicron, compared with Delta, is that the new variant has a more significant effect on the upper airways.

This can cause children to cough repeatedly and make a rasping sound when breathing – symptoms that can be mistaken for croup, a normally mild and common childhood condition that affects the airways.

‘Parents may bring children to hospital just in case, because they’re worried,’ says Dr David Strain, Covid lead at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust.

‘But the babies end up being admitted for a very short period as a precaution.’

Dr Alasdair Munro, a paediatric infectious disease expert at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, says a rise in young children being hospitalised has been expected, given that they are the only group yet to be vaccinated.

He adds: ‘The shifting proportions of admissions are likely due to differences in population immunity between age groups.’

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