COVID-19 Admissions by Age Group

What are the hospital admissions by age?

A matron in a London hospital claimed on BBC Radio 5 Live:

It was minimally affecting children in the first wave. We have a whole ward of children here. I know some of my colleagues are in the same position — where they have whole wards of COVID.

This article examines hospital admissions with COVID-19 by age group.

Hospital admissions by age group

BBC Radio 5 Live presenter Adrian Chiles interviewed a matron at a London hospital.

In response to this media report, Prof Russell Viner (President of RCPCH) said:

Children’s wards are usually busy in winter. As of now we are not seeing significant pressure from COVID-19 in paediatrics across the UK. As cases in the community rise there will be a small increase in the number of children we see with COVID-19, but the overwhelming majority of children and young people have no symptoms or very mild illness only. The new variant appears to affect all ages and, as yet, we are not seeing any greater severity amongst children and young people.

Public Health England surveillance reports provide analysis of hospital admissions. At the time of writing, the latest weekly report includes data up to 29th December 2020.

The statistics come from the new Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI) Watch system. NHS Trusts make returns to this system. The weekly rate of admissions depends on the catchment area of each trust making a new return.

For the week ending 27th December, 119 NHS Trusts made COVID-19 hospitalisation returns.

The statistics come from SARI Watch. (Image: Public Health England)

Among reporting trusts, child hospital admissions are lower than other age groups. In week 52, the admission ratio for children 4 and under was around two in 100,000. For children aged five to 14, it was under one in 100,000. These ratios use estimates for the resident populations.

The statistics for the latest weeks are provisional, and may change in later reports.

This is higher than when SARI Watch first reported. In week 27, COVID-19 admission rates were 0.6 in 100,000 — for those aged 4 and under. For children aged five to 14, it was less than 0.1 per 100,000 people.

In England, there have been around 3,300 people aged 17 or under admitted to hospital with COVID-19. That is the total number since the start of the pandemic. About 1,000 of those admissions were in the London NHS region.

A COVID-19 admission means that person either:

  • Had a positive test result for COVID-19 14 days before admission;
  • Or received lab-confirmation for COVID-19 after admission.
COVID-19 admissions among children (17 or under) are unusual. (Image: PHE COVID-19 Dashboard)

The reporting dates reflect new admissions and in-patient diagnoses for the previous day.

Surveillance systems provide valuable statistics to track the ongoing pandemic. COVID-19 does not seem to be adding major pressure to child wards in English hospitals.

This blog looks at the use of statistics in Britain and beyond. It is written by RSS Statistical Ambassador and Chartered Statistician @anthonybmasters.

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