Covid-19 case numbers among children have risen by more than a quarter in two weeks.
A total 2,186 children tested positive for the disease in the 14-day period that ended on March 22nd, according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).
The number is an increase of almost 460 additional cases than seen during the previous two weeks.
Dr Martin Daly, a GP based in Ballygar, Co Galway, said he has noted a similar trend first-hand.
“We saw a lull in the number of cases up till the last 10 days or so, and we’re now seeing an emergence of positive cases being reported in younger age groups, under-45s but most especially in school-going age,” he said.
“This is worrying because it demonstrates that there’s a repository of the virus in the community and that it is spreading.”
Dr Daly believed that the reopening of schools was not the only factor in the increase.
“It might be because of the schools opening but it also might be because of general fatigue amongst young people with the lockdown,” he said.
“It certainly has affected many younger people quite badly, it’s not a natural condition for younger people to be socially isolated, and I suspect that some of it may be due to congregations of young people in their homes and other homes.”
Of the total 7,538 cases of Covid-19 confirmed in the State over the two-week period up to March 22nd, 29 per cent were in children aged 18 or younger.
There were 612 cases confirmed among those aged zero to four years old, representing around eight per cent of the total, and 926 cases among those aged five to 12 years old, representing around 12 per cent of the total.
A further 648 cases were among those aged 13 to 18 years old, representing around eight per cent of the total.
Among the adult population, 10 per cent of cases were identified among those aged 19 to 24 years old, 16 per cent among those aged 25 to 34, 17 per cent among those aged 35 to 44, and 11 per cent among those aged 45 to 54.
The remaining 15 per cent of cases were identified in those aged 55 or older.
The number of Covid-19 cases identified in schools last week more than tripled from the week before.
The HSE reported that 110 cases were detected following the mass testing of schools in the week ending March 20th, with 44 cases identified in the prior week ending March 13th.
The HPSC identified 24 new outbreaks associated with school children and staff last week, out of a total 404 outbreaks of Covid-19.