Testing children who do not have Covid symptoms should end amid fears of a “huge strain” on schools.
Dr. David Tuthill, Royal College of Paediatricians officer for Wales, questioned whether asymptomatic testing was doing “more harm than good.”
According to the most recent data, children and people under the age of 19 account for more than half of all positive cases.
According to the Welsh government, regular testing is required to support face-to-face learning.
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Due to a “clear failing” of the Test, Trace, Protect (TTP) system, school leaders were forced to “take some matters into their own hands,” according to Laura Doel, director of teaching union NAHT Cymru.
Schools, according to Ms Doel, are “struggling” to deal with contact tracing.
“Unfortunately, members are waiting days, if not weeks, to hear from TTP, which is putting a significant strain on schools,” she said.
“As a result, we have a high number of staff absences, a high number of learners who are unable to attend school because they have contracted Covid, and unless someone steps in and addresses the problem, we will only see further disruption to education.”
According to Public Health Wales data from Wednesday, 51.5 percent of positive Covid cases were in people under the age of 19.
According to Swansea Bay University Health Board, nearly as many under-15s have been admitted to hospital with Covid in the last three months as have been admitted throughout the pandemic.
However, according to Dr. Tuthill, serious illness in children as a result of Covid is still uncommon.
He stated that there are currently more cases among children who are “now the unvaccinated reservoirs, and Covid will spread more in that age group.”
“However, Covid rarely causes serious illness in children,” he added.
He stated that the “real problem” was children suffering from mental health issues as a result of clubs and schools being closed during the first wave of the pandemic.
Vaccinating children aged 12 to 15 starting next week “should reduce the spread of Covid and help children stay in school,” he added.
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has called for a moratorium on testing children who do not exhibit any symptoms.
Dr. Tuthill stated that children with a high fever and runny nose “obviously should not be in school,” but if that is not the case, “are we doing more harm than good?”
“I think we’ll have to go through another phase now where we say, ‘OK, Covid’s going to be here for a long time – if we’re protecting vulnerable people, those on immunosuppressants, the elderly with vaccinations, should we now be less concerned and stop testing asymptomatic children’?”
TTP, according to a Newport mother of two, is “failing” them.
She wished to remain anonymous because she did not want her experience to be associated with the school, which she claimed was “merely following government guidance.”
“There have been five cases in my son’s primary school class. When the first case was discovered, the child’s parent contacted the school, but TTP did not contact us for five days, by which time the disease had spread.
“We could have had our children tested right away if we had known right away. We had no idea about it until my son made contact with my elderly parents over the course of five days.
“We were extremely fortunate that my son later tested negative. People are tired of testing; it is relentless, and the children are tired of it.”
“My own children worry that their friends are ill, worry that they’re going to catch Covid and pass it on to nan and tad – it’s a difficult situation to be in,” Mererid Mair, a mother of two boys who attend a high school in Caernarfon, Gwynedd, said.
She added that last term’s school safety measures were not “restrictive,” and she would welcome the reintroduction of some.
According to the Welsh government, testing assisted in identifying anyone who was infectious.
“It’s critical that staff and students participate in regular testing and report their results online in order for it to be as effective as possible,” a spokesman added.
It stated that reviews would take place every three weeks “to ensure that we are only asking people to regularly test when it is absolutely necessary to support face-to-face education for the majority of learners.”