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Dublin: 15°C Wednesday 28 July 2021

Children with flu symptoms urged to stay home from school as virus strain hits young hardest

Health officials fear a significant outbreak of the disease when schools reopen next week.

File photo.
File photo.
Image: Shutterstock/George Rudy

PARENTS OF CHILDREN with flu symptoms are being urged to keep them home from school as a particular strain of flu virus is disproportionately affecting people under 15 years of age.

The unusually high number of children contracting the B strain of influenza has caused much concern amongst top Health Service Executive officials with doctor’s warning that the virus could rapidly spread when schools reopen next week.

“When schools go back next week, there may be a leap in the numbers with flu,” Dr Kevin Kelleher, assistant national director for public health and child health, explained at a media briefing today.

It would help to stop spreading the disease if children don’t go to school if they’ve got the symptoms of flu.

The sentiments were echoed by the Children’s Hospital Group who advised that children with flu symptoms should:

  • Stay at home
  • Rest
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Use over-the-counter remedies (e.g. paracetamol) to ease symptoms

“If parents are worried about their child’s breathing or fluid intake or if any young child or infant is in one of the high-risk groups and develops flu-like symptoms they should contact their GP,” the group added.

The warning comes as the number of people waiting on hospital trolleys at emergency departments reached an all time high twice this week.

This morning the HSE revealed that there were 12 children on trolleys in the three children’s hospitals in Dublin.

The health service’s National Director for Acute Services, Mr Liam Woods, said children on trolleys was a very rare occurrence and the recent problems are caused by the flu outbreak and were not caused by the volume of people attending hospitals.

Damien McCallion, who heads the HSE’s winter initiative, said 150 new hospital beds were being added to the national system to help combat the delays in emergency departments. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also apologised for the situation.

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Ceimin Burke

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