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Government alert over surge in respiratory virus affecting babies and toddlers


The chief medical officers of the four UK nations are set to warn about a surge in admissions of severely ill, very young children later this year, due to the resurgence of a respiratory virus which has been suppressed by anti-covid measures, HSJ can reveal.

Public Health England modelling shows a possible sharp rise in cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which can cause bronchiolitis, this autumn and winter, several senior sources said. The modelling shows between 20 and 50% more cases needing hospitalisation than normal, HSJ understands.

Official projections conclude that such a surge would require, at least, a doubling of paediatric intenstive care beds and a significant increase in other critlcal care resources for sick children. 

Most of those expected to be affected by the rise in RSV are forecast to be three years old or younger.

The UK’s four chief medical officers are considering the issue and planning to write to ministers to highlight it, the sources said, while NHS England is working on a response plan, and is expected to alert local NHS leaders. 

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Source: HSJ, 14 May 2021

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