Nearly 100 schoolchildren in the capital’s NCR region have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 disease – in the past few days. This spike in infections among young children is attributed to the opening of schools, low vaccination rates for children and, most importantly, non-compliance with COVID-19 measures, according to health experts.
Since the start of the new academic session in April, around 59 students from Gautam Budh Nagar and 32 from Ghaziabad across 22 schools have tested positive for COVID-19. Several schools in Delhi have also reported positive cases. Apart from children, teachers have also been infected.
Health authorities in Delhi and Noida have asked schools to strictly follow COVID-19 protocols and set up virus information help desks. Schools have been ordered to completely close the wing or school even if a single case of COVID-19 is reported among students. Parents have also been asked not to send their children to school if they report symptoms of the viral illness.
“COVID-19 cases are showing a rapid increase in the pediatric group right now, especially in our NCR area because children have started attending school. They are not vaccinated yet because the vaccine is still on trial for the under-12 age group,” said Dr. Col. Vijay Dutta, Senior Consultant of Indian Spinal Cord Injury Center at IANS.
“With gaps in precautionary measures, infection will occur,” added Dr. Smita Malhotra, Consultant and Pediatric Gastroenterologist of Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi.
Doctors pointed out that typical symptoms include a mild cough, cold, fever and headache. In a few cases, the symptoms can be diarrhea and fatigue. So far, there are no cases of pneumonia in the pediatric group, they noted.
Meanwhile, with 2,183 infections, India has seen a 90% increase in COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours. While cases are increasing significantly, it is too early to speak of a fourth wave, says Dr. Meena J, consultant in the Paediatrics & Neonatology division of Aakash Healthcare.
According to experts, the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron is currently the predominant strain in the country. While COVID-19 cases in children were significantly low around the world in the last two years of the pandemic, the Omicron wave – which began in late November last year – caused infection rates to rise. in children.
The children were mainly affected by multisystem inflammatory syndrome and upper respiratory tract infections, such as laryngotracheobronchitis (commonly called croup), which is characterized by a barking cough and noisy breathing.
A recent study published in the JAMA Pediatrics showed that the number of cases linked to upper respiratory tract infections increased during the Omicron push. This has led to an increase in hospitalizations in the United States, with several children requiring invasive ventilation, vasopressors and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. Several deaths have also been reported as a result of the outbreak.
The study by a team of researchers from the American universities of Colorado and Northwestern further revealed that small and relatively collapsible airways in young children make them more vulnerable to upper respiratory infections such as croup, which can lead to cardiac arrest if severe.
Since children under 12 cannot be vaccinated, this increases their risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus. Thus, Malhotra advises following universal precautionary measures, which include hand washing, social distancing and wearing masks.
Dutta adds that the Indian government should speed up its vaccination program for children. Commenting on the importance of good etiquette when sick, Dutta says schools should teach children to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when they sneeze or cough, and to dispose of the tissue immediately.
“They should wash their hands with soap and water or with alcohol-based hand sanitizers at regular intervals to prevent the spread of infection in the pediatric group,” they added.
The above article was published from a telegraphic source with minimal changes to the title and text.