CHILD health experts today moved to reassure parents after Scotland’s Health Secretary claimed that 10 young kids had been hospitalised due to Covid.
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health spoke out after Humza Yousaf said on Wednesday the children age 0-10 were in Scotland’s hospitals “because of” the virus.
Last night, after more than a day of being urged to back up the worrying claim, the Scottish Government finally confirmed that the figure used by Mr Yousaf was not actually for children being treated primarily for Covid.
A table published by the government after pressure from journalists showed the data he had quoted was for hospital “admissions” – a category which can include patients who have Covid without any symptoms, but test positive on arrival or during stays.
Before the Scottish Government revealed the source of the figures, Deputy First Minister John Swinney had compounded fears when quizzed in a radio interview about Mr Yousaf’s comments.
Mr Swinney did not confirm or deny the figures this morning, but suggested new Covid variants could be more harmful to children.
He said the government had to look at various “factors” and determine if “there something in the new variants that are emerging that is making it more acutely challenging for children, with a greater health impact”.
However, Dr Steve Turner from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, a registrar at Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital, said: “As it stands there are very few children in hospital in Scotland and across the whole of the UK due to Covid.
“We’re not seeing any evidence of an increase in paediatric admissions with Covid.
“A very small number of admissions who test positive for Covid is what we’d expect.
“Our experience over the last 15 months is that many children who test positive have come in to hospital for something else, like broken bones.
“At the moment the situation in the UK is stable.
“The number of children in hospital with Covid remains very low.
“Children’s wards are not seeing a rise in cases with Covid. Parents shouldn’t worry.”
And tonight, a Scottish Government statement said: “Our current understanding is that the variants currently in circulation in Scotland do not disproportionately affect children.”
Scottish Conservative Shadow Health Secretary Annie Wells said: “This language from Humza Yousaf has now been proven to be completely misleading by his own Government’s data. His comments were alarming and a terrible example of scaremongering during a health crisis.
“He ended his stint as Justice Secretary in a shroud of controversy and now he’s started his new role with an appalling misleading statement. He should apologise immediately to parents who were understandably worried.
“By making these claims without any evidence to back them up, he has shamefully stoked fear among the public.
“Health experts have made it clear parents have nothing to worry about in terms of their child potentially ending up in hospital. The SNP’s Health Secretary should have sought their advice first before making wildly inaccurate comments on national radio.”
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