Strep A news – live: More child deaths confirmed in the UK

The number of children under 15 who have died from invasive Strep A illness in the UK has risen to 15, health officials have confirmed.

Most recent figures from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) catalogue 13 fatalities relating to the bacterial infection in England. Meanwhile, one child has died in Northern Ireland and a second in Wales.

Group A strep bacteria can cause many different infections, ranging from minor illnesses to deadly diseases.

It comes as NHS England has sent a warning to healthcare leaders over the increased demand driven by Strep A concerns on Thursday.

Experts have warned the NHS is “bursting at the seems” with staff demoralised at the standards of care.

Patients across England have faced record A&E delays as NHS performance against emergency targets slumps to a new low, new data shows.

Chris Hopson, who is chief strategy officer at NHS England, said the NHS is under “significant pressure”.

Illnesses caused by Strep A include the skin infection impetigo, scarlet fever and strep throat.

Key Points

  • Strep A: Child deaths from bacterial infection in UK rise to 15

  • NHS under ‘significant pressure’ but has plan to cope

  • Two children hospitalised amid scarlet fever outbreak at Wales primary school

  • Scarlet fever cases rise tenfold in a year as Strep A infections soar

  • Death of child, 4, in Ireland, confirmed as Strep A

Strep A: Child deaths from bacterial infection in UK rise to 15

15:15 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The number of children under 15 who have died from invasive Strep A illness in the UK has risen to 15, health officials have confirmed.

Most recent figures from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) catalogue 13 fatalities relating to the bacterial infection in England. Meanwhile, one child has died in Northern Ireland and a second in Wales.

Group A strep bacteria can cause many different infections, ranging from minor illnesses to deadly diseases.

Strep A: Child deaths from bacterial infection in UK rise to 15

Fifteen children under age of 15 have died from Step A, figures show

15:12 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Fifteen children under the age of 15 have now died in the UK from invasive Strep A illness, figures show.

New data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows 13 children under 15 have died in England since September.

Two other deaths of children have been recorded in Belfast and Wales, taking the UK total to 15.

Group A strep bacteria can cause many different infections, ranging from minor illnesses to deadly diseases.

Illnesses caused by Strep A include the skin infection impetigo, scarlet fever and strep throat.

While the vast majority of infections are relatively mild, sometimes the bacteria cause a life-threatening illness called invasive Group A Streptococcal disease.

The UKHSA has said there is no current evidence that a new strain is circulating and the rise in cases is most likely due to high amounts of circulating bacteria and increased social mixing.

It comes as pharmacists continue to use Twitter to complain of shortages in access to antibiotics, including the liquid version of penicillin, which is often given to children.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay insisted on Wednesday that checks within the Department of Health have not revealed an issue with supply of the medicines.

However, the National Pharmacy Association has pointed to “blips” in the supply chain of liquid penicillin, while the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies said pharmacists across the country were struggling to source all they need.

Mother of baby who died after Strep A infection warns parents to look out for key signs

15:09 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The mother of a baby who died after a Strep A infection has urged parents to “trust their instincts” as the current UK outbreak claimed its ninth life.

Melissa Mead’s one-year-old son William died after weeks of a lingering cough and concerns dismissed by doctors.

She urged parents to seek advice if something does not seem right - including if a high temperature is combined with other symptoms - as concerns mount over Strep A cases in the UK.

Zoe Tidman reports:

Mother of baby who died after Strep A infection warns parents to look for these signs

Strep A cases in your area as hundreds of infections reported across UK

14:20 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Parents have been warned to be on the lookout for symptoms after a rise in infections caused by the Strep A bacteria.

At least nine children have died with an invasive form of the bacteria in recent weeks, while cases of scarlet fever, which is caused by Strep A infection, have skyrocketed.

Concern has been raised as cases are higher than usual for the time of year.

Infections have been found across the country, with large concentrations of Strep A in southeast England, along with the northeast and northwest.

Strep A cases in your area as hundreds of infections reported across UK

East London school sets up Penicillin administering slot for children diagnosed with Strep A and/or Scarlet Fever

13:55 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

An East London school has set up a Penicillin administering time to meet the increasing demand for student who need medication following Strep A and/ or Scarlet Fever diagnosis.

The pupils have usually been prescriped a 10-day Penicillin course and have already completed a minimum of 24 hours of the prescribed medicine before returning to school.

In an email sent to parents, the school asked them to manage their children’s meal timings to ensure the Penicllin could be administered between 2 and 2.30pm.

Parents were told they could come in to the school to give their children Penicillin if the timings do not work out.

One in seven ambulance patients in England waiting more than an hour for A&E

13:25 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Around one in seven ambulance patients in England are still waiting more than an hour to be handed to A&E teams at hospitals, with nearly one in three waiting at least 30 minutes.

The numbers are higher than at any point last winter.

Health experts said the delays show the NHS is facing “the toughest pressures since modern records began” and is struggling to create space for new arrivals.

A total of 23,894 handover delays of half an hour or longer were recorded across all hospitals trusts last week, according to NHS England.

This was 31% of all arrivals by ambulance, the same level as the previous week.

The proportion stood at 23% at the beginning of December 2021 and 11% at the start of December 2020.

Some 11,296 patients, 15% of the total, waited more than an hour to be handed over last week.

This was also unchanged on the previous week, but up from 10% a year ago and just 3% in December 2020.

NHS trusts in England have a target of 95% of all ambulance handovers to be completed with 30 minutes, with 100% to be completed within 60 minutes.

Danielle Jefferies, of health charity The King’s Fund, said the figures show “an NHS bursting at the seams” as it attempts to meet sharply rising demand while keeping patients safe.

She continued: “Improving ambulance delays has been a government priority for some time, but today’s numbers show that one in seven ambulances are delayed by more than an hour as they wait for stretched A&E teams to assess patients.

“Problems at the hospital front door are indicative of issues at the back door. People are being stranded in hospital because of a long-term lack of investment in social care and NHS community services.

“It is easy to become numb to dire NHS performance figures, but the health service really is facing the toughest pressures since modern records began.”

NHS England says increased demand 'placing pressure on 111, primary care and emergency services’

12:51 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Our health correspondent Rebecca Thomas tweeted: “NHS England tells healthcare leaders: ‘This increased demand is placing pressure across 111, primary care and emergency services. Please, therefore, consider steps to boost in-person assessment capacity’.”

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Deliciously Ella’s Strep A scare after she spent night in A&E with her daughter

12:10 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The woman behind the Deliciously Ella food blog and brand has revealed she spent the night in A&E with her daughter after a Strep A scare.

Ella Mills posted a photo on her Instagram story of her daughter’s legs, which appeared to have been taken while waiting to be seen by a doctor.

“A night in A&E with my gal,” she wrote. “And the absolute angels that are NHS doctors and nurses”, the caption read.

“Seven hours there and they were consistently kind, patient and helpful, despite being extraordinarily busy. She had some strep signs and a rash, but home now ok antibiotics.”

Deliciously Ella’s Strep A scare after she spent night in A&E with her daughter

Over 13,000 ‘fit to leave’ patients still in hospital beds, data reveals

11:34 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

More than 13,000 people are stuck in hospital beds despite being fit to leave, according to new NHS data, which shows that some regions are discharging just 28% of patients.

An average of 13,358 people in England were occupying beds last week but were fit to be discharged, according to NHS England figures.

This is broadly unchanged on the previous week’s average of 13,364, but is up more than a quarter (27%) on the number in the first week of December 2021.

There are sharp regional differences across the country, with half of patients in London and eastern England discharged last week when they were ready, compared with only 28% in north-west England and 35% in south-west England.

The figure for south-east England was 39%, with 43% for north-east England/Yorkshire and 44% for the Midlands.

Chris Hopson, chief strategy officer at NHS England, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday morning that some of the issues around discharge are to do with the NHS, such as providing rehabilitation services.

But he said “fundamentally” the pressures on social care are driving the lack of discharges.

He said: “We would like to reduce it to significantly lower numbers. We’re looking at the numbers that we had before we went into the pandemic - (they) were in the sort of eight, nine, 10 thousands - we would like to do better than that.”

NHS under ‘significant pressure’- continued

11:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Asked if this time next year the data would show that things had improved, Chris Hopson, chief strategy officer, said the NHS was dealing with record demand, had 13,000 medically fit patients “who we would like to discharge from hospital but we can’t” and there was not enough capacity, with solutions including extra beds and virtual wards.

He added: “We know we’ve got workforce issues which is why that long-term plan for workforce is so important and why we were so pleased the Government announced that they were committed to that in the autumn statement, but also we’ve got to carry on dealing with Covid.

“We’ve had four different waves. This year, we’re potentially heading into a fifth, so it’s a very difficult combination of factors but... you can absolutely see how hard the NHS is working, every single member of staff, all of the 1.3 million staff, working to ensure that we provide the best possible care, but it is very pressurised.”

Asked if there is almost a permanent state of crisis in the NHS, he replied: “Well, you can’t call it a crisis if there (is) a plan... we’ve got a clear plan, and I’ve set out what the plan is.”

He said he had been “very clear about what it is that we need to do”, adding: “The whole point of having the plan and the whole point of NHS staff working so hard is that we are looking to improve performance, so yes, I’m sitting here saying to you that absolutely I hope that in a year’s time, everybody in the NHS hopes that in a year’s time, we will be in a better position than we currently are.”

Of the 13,000 medically fit patients stuck in hospital beds, Mr Hopson said “we’re looking at the numbers that we had before we went into the pandemic, (they) were in the sort of eight, nine, 10 thousands - we would like to do better than that.”

Asked about staff going on strike, Mr Hopson said there was an independent process regarding pay levels for NHS workers.

When he was at NHS Providers, Mr Hopson spoke of the NHS working beyond full stretch, a recruitment crisis and low pay being a problem.

Asked if he saw it differently in his new role, he said that he had been very clear for the last decade “that having the right levels of pay is fundamental to attracting and retaining the staff that we need.

“But the formal position that we have in the NHS is it’s the Government that sets that level of pay.”

NHS under ‘significant pressure’ but has plan to cope

10:39 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

There is a plan to deal with the “significant pressure” the NHS is under, its chief strategy officer has said, although he appeared to disagree the service was in crisis.

Chris Hopson, who is chief strategy officer at NHS England and former chief executive of NHS Providers, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that staff were working hard to deliver care.

He said there “are so many instances that we have at the moment where, despite best efforts at the frontline, NHS staff aren’t able to provide the quality of care they would want see, but there is a clear plan to address that.”

He added: “As we come out of the peak of the Covid pandemic, just like every other advanced western health system, the NHS is under significant pressure, but we do have a very clear three-point plan.

“The first is we know we need to recover and stabilise our core services like accident and emergency, ambulances, recover those planned care waiting lists.

“Then as we recover, we need to get back to delivering the key ambitions we put out in the long-term plan to improve health outcomes long term.

“And third, we know we need to transform the NHS for the future. So there is a clear plan but, yes, we are under very significant pressure.”

Record delays in A&E as NHS warned over Strep A pressures

10:23 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Patients across England have faced record A&E delays as NHS performance against emergency targets slumps to a new low, new data shows.

The number of patients seen within four hours in A&E dropped to 68.9 percent in November, the lowest since records began.

Meanwhile, the number of people waiting for NHS care hit a new high of 7.2 million in October, up from 7.1 million the previous month.

The figures come as NHS England sent a warning to healthcare leaders over the increased demand driven by Strep A concerns on Thursday.

Our health correspondent Rebecca Thomas reports on this breaking news story:

Record delays in A&E as NHS warned over Strep A pressures

Yousaf stresses there is no shortage of supply of antibiotics

10:16 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The Scottish health secretary has reassured parents that there is “no shortage of supply” of the antibiotics needed to treat Strep A.

Humza Yousaf was also clear that the number of cases of the infection being seen in Scotland is “not unusual”.

Across the UK at least nine children have died from complications caused by the Strep A infection - although no fatalities have been reported in Scotland.

Public Health Scotland (PHS) has stressed that, while Group A Streptococcal (GAS) infections, including scarlet fever, are common, the more serious Invasive Group A Streptococcal (IGAS) infections - when bacteria get into the bloodstream - are rare.

A total of 13 IGAS cases involving children under the age of 10 were reported to PHS between the start of October and December 5.

Meanwhile, Mr Yousaf said that, although the number of GAS cases is expected to rise, parents should contact their GP if their child becomes unwell and they will get “the treatment that’s required”.

The health secretary, speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, said: “There have been 1,195 Group A Strep infections since the beginning of October - that’s the PHS figure in Scotland. - but that’s not unusual.

“We do expect an increase in the coming weeks, but it’s really important to say that the vast bulk of those 1,195 cases will present as mild illness that can be treated, so we want to just get the balance right between absolutely telling parents the signs and symptoms to look out for and also just say there’s no need to panic if your child is unwell, signs and symptoms, phone your GP and you’ll get the treatment that’s required.”

Asked whether he is concerned about running out of antibiotics he said: “No, there’s no shortage of supply.

“I’ve spoken to the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer and had guarantees around the stock and supply, so we’ll keep a close eye on it but there’s no supply issues on antibiotics.”

UK health secretary Steve Barclay also insisted on Wednesday that the level of supply of the necessary antibiotics is “not a concern at the moment”.

Scarlet fever cases rise tenfold as parents struggle to find Strep A antibiotics

09:29 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Scarlet fever cases have surged by tenfold in a year, official data shows, as pharmacists grapple with a shortage of antibiotics during a Strep A outbreak.

Strep A bacteria usually only causes mild illness, including scarlet fever and strep throat, which is treated with antibiotics. But in rare cases, it can progress into a potentially life-threatening disease if it gets into the bloodstream.

Infections are higher than normal for this time of year, and at least nine children have died after contracting the bacteria in recent weeks.

Zoe Tidman reports:

Scarlet fever cases rise tenfold as parents struggle to find Strep A antibiotics

Are vaccines available for Strep A and scarlet fever?

09:00 , Emily Atkinson

Nine children in the UK have died in recent weeks as a result of an outbreak of Group A Streptococcus, a potentially deadly bacterial infection more commonly known as Strep A.

The bacteria, Streptococcus pyogenes, can linger in the throat and on the skin and cause many different illnesses if transmitted through sneezing or physical contact, including impetigo, scarlet fever and strep throat.

While the vast majority of infections prove relatively mild, the bacteria can also sometimes cause a life-threatening illness known as invasive Group A Streptococcal (iGAS) disease. Symptoms include high fever, severe muscle aches, localised muscle tenderness and redness at the site of a wound.

Joe Sommerlad reports:

Are vaccines available for Strep A and scarlet fever?

Death of child, 4, in Ireland, confirmed as Strep A

08:41 , Emily Atkinson

An invasive form of Strep A has been linked to the death of a four-year-old child in Ireland, bringing the number of children to have died with the infection in recent weeks to 10.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) had been investigating whether invasive Group A streptococcal had been a factor in the death of the child in the north east area of the country.

“We can now confirm that invasive Group A Streptococcal infection was found to be the cause of the infection associated with their death,” it said.

Death of child, 4, in Ireland, confirmed as Strep A

Strep A cases in your area as hundreds of infections reported across UK

08:02 , Emily Atkinson

Parents have been warned to be on the lookout for symptoms after a rise in infections caused by the Strep A bacteria.

At least nine children have died with an invasive form of the bacteria in recent weeks, while cases of scarlet fever, which is caused by Strep A infection, have skyrocketed.

Concern has been raised as cases are higher than usual for the time of year.

Liam James has the details:

Strep A cases in your area as hundreds of infections reported across UK

Irish Health officials move to reassure parents after child dies

07:28 , Emily Atkinson

Health authorities have moved to reassure parents after it was confirmed that an invasive form of Strep A was linked to the death of a four-year-old child in Ireland.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) had been investigating whether invasive Group A streptococcal had been a factor in the death of the child in the north east area of the country.

“We can now confirm that invasive Group A Streptococcal infection was found to be the cause of the infection associated with their death,” it said.

Public health staff are supporting the family as well as the school the child had attended.

Health authorities have contacted schools and childcare providers with information on Strep A infections, including scarlet fever and other winter viruses.

The Chief Medical Officer Breda Smyth and health authorities have stressed that while it is a worrying time for parents, most children who get ill from a Strep A infection will have a mild illness which can be treated with antibiotics.

The advice stresses that if a child is seriously unwell, particularly if they are getting worse, professional medical advice should be sought.

“As a parent, if you feel that your child is seriously unwell, you should trust your own judgement,” the HSE advice states.

Can adults get Strep A?

07:00 , Eleanor Noyce

Why is Strep A spreading amongst children and can adults contract it?

Yes, adults can get Strep A. Scarlet fever is more common in children, but those at increased risk for scarlet fever include parents of school-aged children and those who are often in contact with children.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that those exposed to group settings such as schools and care homes are also at increased risk.

The NHS also notes that those at risk of iGAS include people who:

  • Are in close contact with someone who has the disease

  • Are over the age of 65

  • Have diabetes, heart disease or cancer

  • Have recently had chickenpox

  • Have HIV

  • Use some steroids or other intravenous drugs.

Strep A infections are increasing amongst children - but can adults contract it too?

What to do if you think your child has Strep A

06:00 , Eleanor Noyce

The UKHSA advises contacting NHS 111 or your GP if you suspect your child has scarlet fever, because early treatment of the illness with antibiotics is important in reducing the risk of complications such as pneumonia or a bloodstream infection.

If your child has scarlet fever, keep them at home until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment to avoid spreading the infection to others.

In most cases, scarlet fever will resolve itself without medical intervention, but children can occasionally develop a bacterial infection on top of the virus which can make them more unwell.

Joanna Whitehead has more:

What to do if you think your child has Strep A

Strep A: ‘Patchy’ penicillin supply as demand for antibiotics rises

05:00 , Eleanor Noyce

Pharmacists have said they are struggling to get penicillin, a first line drug used to treat Strep A, saying supply has been “patchy”.

At least nine children have died across the UK in recent weeks after contracting the bacterial infection, which usually only causes mild illness but can, in rare cases, develop into an invasive disease can prove fatal.

Pharmacists have reported issues getting liquid penicillin, with two different industry bodies raising concerns over the drug’s supply.

Strep A: ‘Patchy’ penicillin supply as demand for antibiotics rises

Scarlet fever cases rise tenfold as parents struggle to find Strep A antibiotics

04:00 , Eleanor Noyce

Scarlet fever cases have surged by tenfold in a year, official data shows, as pharmacists grapple with a shortage of antibiotics during a Strep A outbreak.

Strep A bacteria usually only causes mild illness, including scarlet fever and strep throat, which is treated with antibiotics. But in rare cases, it can progress into a potentially life-threatening disease if it gets into the bloodstream.

Infections are higher than normal for this time of year, and at least nine children have died after contracting the bacteria in recent weeks.

Pharmacists say they are struggling to get their hands on antibiotics to treat Strep A infections – despite the government insisting there is no shortage.

“We are worried because we are having to turn patients away,” Dr Leyla Hannbeck, the head of the Association of Multiple Pharmacies (AIMP), told The Independent.

Scarlet fever cases rise tenfold as parents struggle to find Strep A antibiotics

Strep A concerns create ‘carnage’ and ‘eyewatering demand’ for the NHS

03:00 , Eleanor Noyce

NHS 111, primary care and A&E services have suffered “carnage” following the recent outbreak in Strep A cases.

Senior staff working across services in the NHS have warned that news about the outbreak of Strep A has pushed more parents to use services during a time when demand is already at record levels.

Leading epidemiologists speaking with The Independent have warned that the outbreak, which has killed at least nine children, could only be the beginning, with peaks usually expected closer to spring.

Strep A concerns create ‘carnage’ and ‘eyewatering demand’ for the NHS

Can I get a swab test for Strep A? Online retailers selling out as infections rise across UK

02:00 , Eleanor Noyce

Nine children have died from Strep A in recent weeks amid a rise in infections across the UK.

In certain countries, rapid Strep A tests are used to spot the bacterial infection.

The tests commonly used in the United States are not too dissimilar in design to the lateral flow tests used to quickly diagnose Covid-19. Throat swabs taken by a medical practitioner and results become apparent within 15 minutes.

If positive, an infected patient can start a course of antibiotics immediately, If negative, but the medical professional still has cause to suspect Strep A, the swab is sent to a lab for more thorough investigation.

Swab tests for Strep A selling out as bacterial infections rise across the UK

How to avoid Strep A and is it contagious?

01:00 , Eleanor Noyce

The UKHSA says GAS is spread by close contact with an infected person and can be passed on through coughs and sneezes or from a wound.

Some people can have the bacteria present in their body without feeling unwell or showing any symptoms of infections and while they can pass it on, the risk of spread is much greater when a person is unwell.

Speaking to Sky News, Dr Colin Brown, deputy director of the UKHSA, suggested that a lack of mixing due to the Covid pandemic, with changes to mixing and susceptibility in children, were probably “bringing forward the normal scarlet fever season” from spring to this side of Christmas.

To slow the spread of infection and best protect children, the UKSHA advises maintaining good hand and respiratory hygiene.

More here:

How to avoid Strep A and is it contagious?

Strep A outbreak: Everything we know as nine children die of bacterial infection

Wednesday 7 December 2022 23:58 , Eleanor Noyce

Seven children have now died from a bacterial infection after outbreaks at a number of schools.

A primary school pup from Belfast is the latest victim of Strep A, becoming the ninth child to have also passed away from the bacterial infection in recent weeks.

Health authorities are now investigating the recent increase in Strep A cases.

Here’s everything we know:

All we know about Strep A outbreak as nine children die of bacterial infection

“As a parent, Strep A is all I can think about"

Wednesday 7 December 2022 23:00 , Sam Rkaina

“To say I’m worried would be an understatement: not least when both of my children have reported sore throats and aching tummies in the last couple of days; and the symptoms of scarlet fever include sore throat, headache, fever, nausea and vomiting.

“These symptoms are common, and also consistent with the winter bugs that parents know to expect, year on year.”

As a parent, Strep A is all I can think about, writes Victoria Richards:

Opinion: As a parent, Strep A is all I can think about

Deliciously Ella’s Strep A scare after she spent night in A&E with her daughter

Wednesday 7 December 2022 22:39 , Eleanor Noyce

The woman behind the Deliciously Ella food blog and brand has revealed she spent the night in A&E with her daughter after a Strep A scare.

Ella Mills posted a photo on her Instagram story of her daughter’s legs, which appeared to have been taken while waiting to be seen by a doctor.

“A night in A&E with my gal,” she wrote. “And the absolute angels that are NHS doctors and nurses”, the caption read.

“Seven hours there and they were consistently kind, patient and helpful, despite being extraordinarily busy. She had some strep signs and a rash, but home now ok antibiotics.”

More here:

Deliciously Ella’s Strep A scare after she spent night in A&E with her daughter

Strep A: Parents warned to look out for these symptoms as scarlet fever cases rise

Wednesday 7 December 2022 22:00 , Eleanor Noyce

Health officials are urging parents to look out for symptoms of scarlet fever in their children following a surge in cases driven by a recent increase in Strep A infections.

According to the most recent data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), the number of scarlet fever cases remains higher than would typically be expected at this time of year. There were 851 cases reported in week 46 compared with an average of 186 in the preceding years, the agency said.

The illness is caused by a species of bacteria called Group A Streptococcus. These bacteria also cause other respiratory and skin infections, such as Strep throat and impetigo.

Strep A: Parents warned to look out for these symptoms as scarlet fever cases rise

How to avoid Strep A and is it contagious?

Wednesday 7 December 2022 21:00 , Eleanor Noyce

Nine children are confirmed to have died from Strep A in recent weeks, and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has confirmed there has been an increase in infections.

The latest confirmed fatality was a pupil who attended a primary school in Belfast who died on Monday after being diagnosed with Strep A. A statement from Black Mountain Primary School said the schoolgirl developed a severe illness last week and was treated at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, where she had been in intensive care.

While the vast majority of infections are relatively mild, sometimes the bacteria causes a life-threatening illness called invasive Group A Streptococcal disease, as with the Belfast case.

Group A streptococcus (GAS) is a common bacteria. Indeed, lots of us carry it in our throats and on our skin and it doesn’t always result in illness, according to the UKHSA. However, GAS does cause a number of infections, some mild and some more serious.

Emily Atkinson reports:

How to avoid Strep A and is it contagious?

NHS England Medical Director warns that Strep A paired with other infections could place pressure on health service

Wednesday 7 December 2022 20:30 , Eleanor Noyce

The National Medical Director for NHS England has warned that this winter “will inevitably be tough” for the health service.

Professor Sir Stephen Powis remarked that a rise in flu cases along with Strep A could place pressure on the NHS.

“So we are obviously worried about this winter, it’s the first winter in a few years that we will have seen flu again, and flu in the last few weeks has been on the rise”, he told PA.

“We are seeing other infections coming back - Group A streptococcus is in the news at the moment but RSV, another virus that affects children, has been circulating.

“And we’re seeing all these infections a bit out of their usual pattern, a bit out of their usual season, because we haven’t seen them over the last few years because of the measures that have been in place to reduce the transmission of Covid.

“So we are getting a lot of infections back and we’re getting them at times that we wouldn’t necessarily expect them, but we’ve planned for that, we’ve expected it and our staff are working hard to manage it - but it will undoubtedly be a tough winter.”

Two children admitted to hospital following scarlet fever outbreak at Wales primary school

Wednesday 7 December 2022 19:40 , Eleanor Noyce

Two children have been admitted to hospital following a scarlet fever outbreak at a primary school in Wales.

A total of 24 children at Brynaman Primary School in Carmarthenshire have been diagnosed with the infection.

Councillor Glynog Davies, cabinet member for education and Welsh language, reported that five schools across the county had scarlet fever cases.

“On Monday, our head teachers were briefed on this very important matter and we have shared an information letter provided by Public Health Wales about the symptoms and also how to respond”, Davies told a meeting held by Carmarthenshire County Council.

“It’s very important that we do raise awareness about this.

“The staff in our schools are aware of this and they are keeping an eye on the situation, looking out for children with high temperature or who have a sore throat or a rash.

“If there are two or more cases in the same setting of the same school within a 10-day period, the school would have to notify the health protection team for further guidance.”

Can adults get Strep A?

Wednesday 7 December 2022 19:10 , Eleanor Noyce

Nine children have now died from Strep A amidst a growing number of infections in recent weeks.

On Monday, a primary school student in Belfast passed away after being diagnosed with a severe form of Strep A.

Stella-Lily McCorkindale was a “bright and talented little girl”, devastated staff at Black Mountain Primary School said.

Seven-year-old Hanna Roap from Penarth, Wales and four-year-old Muhammed Ibrahim Ali from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire have also been named as victims.

But why is Strep A spreading amongst children and can adults contract it? We look into the infection below.

Strep A infections are increasing amongst children - but can adults contract it too?

Belfast’s paediatric hospital suspends routine procedures amidst infection increase

Wednesday 7 December 2022 18:37 , Eleanor Noyce

All routine procedures at Belfast‘s paediatric hospital have been postponed after an increase in children presenting with bacterial and viral infections.

In a statement on Wednesday evening, the Belfast Trust said the hospital is experiencing “very significant pressures”.

It said 227 children attended its emergency department on Tuesday, and that the number of children attending with symptoms of bacterial and viral infections has increased.

“Unfortunately, we have taken the very difficult decision to postpone all routine procedures at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children to allow our staff to care for those children with serious or time critical illness at this time.

“We appreciate how difficult this will be for families and children and we apologise for the distress this may cause.”

Strep A cases in your area as hundreds of infections reported across UK

Wednesday 7 December 2022 17:51 , Eleanor Noyce

Parents have been warned to be on the lookout for symptoms after a rise in infections caused by the Strep A bacteria.

At least nine children have died with an invasive form of the bacteria in recent weeks, while cases of scarlet fever, which is caused by Strep A infection, have skyrocketed.

Concern has been raised as cases are higher than usual for the time of year.

Infections have been found across the country, with large concentrations of Strep A in southeast England, along with the northeast and northwest.

More here:

Strep A cases in your area as hundreds of infections reported across UK

Scotland’s health secretary Humza Yousaf states NHS “adequately able” to deal with Strep A increase

Wednesday 7 December 2022 17:14 , Eleanor Noyce

There have been 13 reports of invasive Strep A in children aged under 10 in Scotland, new data has found.

These cases were reported between the beginning of October and 5 December.

Scotland’s health secretary Humza Yousaf has stated that the country’s health service is “adequately able” to deal with this increase.

In Scotland, there have been no reports of deaths amongst this age group. Elsewhere in the UK, at least nine children have died following an iGAS infection.

“Healthcare professionals from primary care to secondary care have been given additional information around signs and symptoms to look out for, so they are very vigilant with that”, Humza Yousaf said.

“But it is a very treatable illness and therefore I don’t have any concerns about the ability of the health service.”

Royal Belfast Hospital to launch review into Stella-Lilly McCorkindale’s death

Wednesday 7 December 2022 16:32 , Eleanor Noyce

The Royal Belfast Hospital is to launch a review into the death of five-year-old Stella-Lilly McCorkindale, the ninth child to die from a Strep A infection this season. The family took her to A&E three times before she was admitted to intensive care.

“Every aspect of the care Stella-Lilly received is being carefully reviewed,” a Belfast Trust spokesperson told Sky News.

“The death of a child is a heart-breaking event for family and friends and in such tragic circumstances, we give the family space to grieve.

“Hospital management will be available to meet Stella-Lilly’s family at a time that suits them.”

13 cases of invasive Strep A in under-10s – Public Health Scotland

Wednesday 7 December 2022 16:02 , Emily Atkinson

There have been 13 reports of invasive Strep A in children aged under 10 in Scotland since the start of October, according to latest data.

Scotland’s health secretary Humza Yousaf has said the country’s health service is “adequately able” to deal with Strep A infections despite warnings that cases are expected to increase.

Public Health Scotland (PHS) said that infections caused by Group A Streptococcus (GAS) have been increasing since the beginning of October, though levels of the more serious Invasive Group A Streptococcal infections (iGAS) have been “generally stable and similar to previous years”.

Read the report in full here:

13 cases of invasive Strep A in under-10s – Public Health Scotland

Strep A concerns create ‘carnage’ and ‘eyewatering demand’ for the NHS

Wednesday 7 December 2022 15:30 , Emily Atkinson

NHS 111, primary care and A&E services have suffered “carnage” following the recent outbreak in Strep A cases, The Independent has been told.

Senior staff working across services in the NHS have warned that news about the outbreak of Strep A has pushed more parents to use services during a time when demand is already at record levels.

Leading epidemiologists speaking with The Independent have warned that the outbreak, which has killed at least nine children, could only be the beginning, with peaks usually expected closer to spring.

Our health correspondent Rebecca Thomas has more:

Strep A concerns create ‘carnage’ and ‘eyewatering demand’ for the NHS

Watch: Mother 'terrified' as daughter fights for life with Strep A infection

Wednesday 7 December 2022 15:01 , Emily Atkinson

Starmer and Sunak discuss Strep A at PMQs

Wednesday 7 December 2022 14:37 , Emily Atkinson

The government’s handling of the rise in Strep A cases was debated in the House of Commons during Prime Minister’s Questions earlier today.

On Strep A infections, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “I’ve been very happy to work with the Government on this, so can he take the opportunity to update the country on the measures the country is taking to keep children safe this winter?”

Rishi Sunak replied: “We are seeing a higher number of cases from Strep A this year compared to usual. What I can say is that the NHS who have sat down to talk about this are working very hard to make sure parents are aware of the symptoms that they should be looking out to (for) because this can be treated appropriately with antibiotics.

“There are no current shortages of drugs available to treat this and there are well-established procedures in place to ensure that that remains the case and the (UKHSA) are monitoring the situation at pace and what they have confirmed is that this is not a new strain of Strep A, so people should be reassured about that.

“There is no reason to believe that it has become more lethal and more resistant to antibiotics, so the most important thing for parents to do is look out for the symptoms and get the treatment that is available for them.”

How to avoid Strep A and is it contagious?

Wednesday 7 December 2022 14:16 , Emily Atkinson

Nine children are confirmed to have died from Strep A in recent weeks, and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has confirmed there has been an increase in infections.

The latest confirmed fatality was a pupil who attended a primary school in Belfast who died on Monday after being diagnosed with Strep A. A statement from Black Mountain Primary School said the schoolgirl developed a severe illness last week and was treated at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, where she had been in intensive care.

While the vast majority of infections are relatively mild, sometimes the bacteria causes a life-threatening illness called invasive Group A Streptococcal disease, as with the Belfast case.

We take a look at how Strep A can spread and how to best protect yourself against infection:

How to avoid Strep A and is it contagious?

Watch: Rishi Sunak says no current Strep A drug shortages amid supply line issue claims

Wednesday 7 December 2022 13:55 , Emily Atkinson

Are vaccines available for Strep A and scarlet fever?

Wednesday 7 December 2022 13:35 , Emily Atkinson

Nine children in the UK have died in recent weeks as a result of an outbreak of Group A Streptococcus, a potentially deadly bacterial infection more commonly known as Strep A.

The bacteria, Streptococcus pyogenes, can linger in the throat and on the skin and cause many different illnesses if transmitted through sneezing or physical contact, including impetigo, scarlet fever and strep throat.

While the vast majority of infections prove relatively mild, the bacteria can also sometimes cause a life-threatening illness known as invasive Group A Streptococcal (iGAS) disease. Symptoms include high fever, severe muscle aches, localised muscle tenderness and redness at the site of a wound.

Joe Sommerlad has the details:

Are vaccines available for Strep A and scarlet fever?

Strep A outbreak: Everything we know as nine children die of bacterial infection

Wednesday 7 December 2022 13:15 , Emily Atkinson

Seven children have now died from a bacterial infection after outbreaks at a number of schools.

A primary school pup from Belfast is the latest victim of Strep A, becoming the ninth child to have also passed away from the bacterial infection in recent weeks.

Health authorities are now investigating the recent increase in Strep A cases.

Parents have been urged to be vigilant and stay on the look out for potential symptoms.

But what do we know about the outbreak so far? Zoe Tidman has the details:

All we know about Strep A outbreak as nine children die of bacterial infection

Watch: Pharmacists say penicillin supply is ‘patchy’ amid Strep A outbreak

Wednesday 7 December 2022 12:55 , Emily Atkinson

Strep A: Four-year-old Camilla Rose Burns off ventilator but still fighting infection

Wednesday 7 December 2022 12:35 , Emily Atkinson

A four-year-old girl who was left fighting for her life after contracting a bacterial infection that has killed at least nine others has come off the ventilator but is still battling the illness.

Camila Rose Burns, of Bolton, Greater Manchester, is now breathing independently without the need for mechanical support after contracting a Strep A infection just over a week ago, which progressed into a potentially life-threatening invasive disease.

Despite Camila’s progress, she is still fighting the infection and her chest has not fully cleared. She remains in intensive care, and is still on lots of medication, including dialysis, along with other support while her organs recover.

Read our report in full here:

Strep A: Four-year-old Camilla Rose Burns off ventilator but still fighting infection

Strep A: ‘Patchy’ penicillin supply as demand for antibiotics rises

Wednesday 7 December 2022 12:15 , Emily Atkinson

Pharmacists have said they are struggling to get penicillin, a first line drug used to treat Strep A, saying supply has been “patchy”.

At least nine children have died across the UK in recent weeks after contracting the bacterial infection, which usually only causes mild illness but can, in rare cases, develop into an invasive disease can prove fatal.

Pharmacists have reported issues getting liquid penicillin, with two different industry bodies raising concerns over the drug’s supply.

Zoe Tidman reports:

Strep A: ‘Patchy’ penicillin supply as demand for antibiotics rises

Scarlet fever cases rise tenfold in a year as Strep A infections soar

Wednesday 7 December 2022 11:46 , Emily Atkinson

Scarlet fever cases have risen tenfold this year to outstrip last year by thousands, official figures show.

There had been around 23,000 incidents of the infection - caused by the Strep A bacteria - this year up until last week.

This was compared to just 2,323 during the same period in 2021.

But this year, there were around 1,100 cases reported last week alone, according to official data published on Tuesday.

Zoe Tidman reports:

Scarlet fever cases rise tenfold in a year as Strep A infections soar