PARENTS have been warned they are at higher risk of catching Covid in the next few weeks, and to think about elderly relatives.
This warning comes as the fourth wave appears to be beginning, with more cases appearing after schools reopened.
The pattern reflects what happened at the start of the second wave, in September 2020.
But this time, vaccines are preventing a huge number of deaths and hospitalisations – although experts say they are still “too high”.
Professor Tim Spector, who heads one of the leading UK Covid studies, said cases are “no longer dropping”.
He said: “We’re seeing around 58,000 cases per day now, 14,300 of those have been fully vaccinated.
“The original peaks we had earlier in the summer were coming from young people in their 20s which has come down now.
“The last three weeks we’ve really been seeing this increase in the kids, in 0-18 year-olds.”
Prof Spector, speaking on YouTube, used a graph to show that cases had gone up “quite sharply”, while cases in 30 to 50 year-olds “are starting to pick up as well”.
The ZOE Covid Study App data shows that around 2,000 people between the ages of 19 and 39 have Covid, compared to 1,500 three weeks ago.
Around 1,300 adults aged between 30 to 49 are infected at the moment.
Statistics show that one in 79 children between 0-9 years old and Covid is present. The figure rises to one-in-36 for those between 10-19 years of age.
This figure is approximately one in 75 among those in their 40s and 30s.
Prof Spector continued: “Many of them may well be the parents who are mixing with these infected kids. This is likely to be the driving source of infection for the next few days.
“We have seen this before – if you remember last September when schools went back we saw a big surge in colds and Covid in kids, and that did translate to increases in parents.
“The only good news here is we are not seeing changes so far in elderly. The over 50-year-olds haven’t really moved at all and they’d be the main source of hospitalisations.
“But I think everyone is expecting the effect of Freshers week, with universities going back, and kids of the 18-21 group fuelling some more infections.”
Prof Spector warned against seeing elderly and vulnerable patients whose vaccination protection may have waned.
He said: “The lesson here is, this is where we will be seeing the problem for the next few weeks – in the 30 to 50 year-old age groups.
“So if you’ve got kids at school, do be a bit careful about mixing, particularly with vulnerable or elderly relatives for the next couple of weeks.
“As the winter approaches, it’s important parents of school-aged children and students don’t pass the virus on to more vulnerable grandparents by not recognising simple cold-like symptoms as a possible Covid infection.
“This is a critical time and a little caution could make all the difference in avoiding a winter crisis for hospitals.”
He suggested that people should be aware that cold symptoms could be Covid and that they should perform a home lateral flow test.
Supporting data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Department of Health signal a fourth wave is gaining momentum.
Professor Simon Clarke of Reading University is a microbiologist who said that ministers shouldn’t be complacent in dealing with the increase in infections in school-age kids.
“It is likely they [Covid cases] have gone from children. Parents have protection from the vaccine, but we know the protection is not complete,” he told MailOnline.
There have been millions of vaccinations given across the UK and 82.5 percent of adults have been double-jabbed.
However, there is strong evidence that immunity diminishes after six months. It will decrease gradually as the population ages.
Ministers have intensified a booster vaccination campaign to reach vulnerable people before winter, when more viruses are spread.
In case of high hospitalisations, there is always a plan B. It involves mandatory facemasks being reintroduced, as well as working remotely and using vaccine passports.
Despite the fact that its vaccines have been successful, the UK still has high hospital admission rates.
Prof Spector said this is because there are very few controls in place, and rely solely on vaccines to stop the spread of the virus.
He said: “Hospitalisations are around 5,200 new people going into hospital last week, which is down slightly.
“But remember we’ve still got about 800 people on mechanical ventilators in ICU – many of those won’t make it.
“Currently the cases are pretty mild, we are seeing a drop in the numbers of people going to hospital, which is good news.
“It does need a careful eye on it as it spreads from one generation to another.”
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