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Covid test referrals surge among kids since schools reopened

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A child receiving a Covid-19 test

A child receiving a Covid-19 test

A child receiving a Covid-19 test

Doctors have reported a surge in children being referred for Covid-19 tests since the country's schools reopened.

The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) said that GPs are seeing a spike in the number of children attending for assessment with possible Covid-19 symptoms.

Forced

Thousands of children returned to classrooms across the country at the start of September for the first time in six months, after schools were forced to shut their doors in March due to the pandemic.

Chairman of the IMO GP Committee, Dr Denis McCauley, said the increase in assessments for children was being experienced throughout the country.

"Our GP members right across the country are reporting a very significant increase in requests from parents for assessments of their children for possible Covid-19," he said.

"We had anticipated a development like this following the long-awaited reopening of the schools but we are nevertheless struck by the volume of enquiries being received by members."

Dr McCauley said the IMO supported the reopening of schools and that public health doctors were working closely with schools to manage any reported cases of Covid.

"It is absolutely right that the schools have reopened and that parents are seeking advice on possible Covid cases," he said.

"The increase in demand for assessments is positive as it demonstrates that parents are monitoring their children's health closely.

"It also allows the GP an opportunity to assess each presentation and to filter out non-essential testing but also to pick up important non-Covid presentations," Dr McCauley said.

"By being proactive, they are doing their bit to prevent the spread of Covid within the schools and the wider community and are doing a great job but it is important that all of us in society support this by doing our bit - handwashing, social distancing and reducing contacts."

Concerns

"We cannot forget the basics and if anyone has symptoms they should immediately self-isolate and contact their GP," he said.

Dr McCauley added that parents with concerns about Covid-19 should focus on fever, sudden onset of cough or a child who is generally unwell with loss of taste or smell and to refer such cases to their GP as soon as symptoms develop.