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92% of children symptomatic with UK variant after daycare outbreak, county health department says

But none required hospitalization
Posted at 6:46 PM, Apr 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-21 19:46:01-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — A March outbreak of the U.K. coronavirus variant at a daycare in Omaha was the subject of research by a team at the Douglas County Health Department, which was discussed Tuesday at the county's board of health meeting.

Although the name of the child care facility was not given at the meeting Tuesday, the details shared correspond with last month's report by the health department about an outbreak at Rosewood Academy near 158th and Fort Streets.

Health officials took the opportunity to analyze the first known outbreak of the U.K. variant to observe changes in the virus' characteristics.

The U.K. variant was identified for each case associated with the facility where a variant could be determined.

About 92% of children aged six or younger developed COVID-19 symptoms, and it's the first known local outbreak among that age group, the team found.

Though none of the children were hospitalized, the symptomatic rate among children is higher than the original variant, said Justin Frederick, the department's supervisor of communicable disease epidemiology.

The team used genetic sequencing to help identify degrees of separation between children and staff infected.

"You can really see that this one event really did spill over into our community," Frederick said, "If we were performing genetic sequencing, like other countries, on all of our positive specimens, we'd really be able to see the full picture of how far this went."

One of 26 staff members aged 17 to 35 was hospitalized. About 79% had symptoms.

None in the study was vaccinated; it was not available to them at the time.

Officials said 83 primary cases were identified among attendees and staff, 49 secondary cases among household members. There were two known cases with another degree of separation among people who attended a wedding.

The team found evidence that the variant spreads rapidly and can be transmitted from children to adults.

"This really stressed the need for increased compliance with public health mitigation measures in child care centers," Frederick said, "and within the community as we continue to see an uptick in the number of variant viruses."

The facility was initially discovered by contract tracers and was not reported to the health department by the facility.

With a probable case among a child as early as Feb. 22, the facility first closed on March 5, reopened on March 15, and a voluntary closure was requested on the evening of March 17.

There are no cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome among the facility's children.

The study also found a disproportionate increase in cases from February to March by age. The county saw a 15% increase between the months, but a 31% increase in the same time among people 19 and younger.

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