There is much speculation recently about a third wave of coronavirus in India, which is likely to be more detrimental to kids. We cannot be certain whether this prediction is from reliable scientific sources. However, in the present wave, we are seeing more children affected by the virus than last year.
In children, acute infection with coronavirus is usually asymptomatic or with flu-like symptoms such as fever, cold, cough, diarrhea, and vomiting. Some affected children suffer from severe symptoms including fast or difficult breathing, drop in oxygen saturation (hypoxia), lethargy, and seizures that require hospitalization.
It is a dreaded but treatable complication of covid illness, and can be seen in children of all ages, from newborns to 21 yrs. of age. Mis-C occurs in a small percentage of children a few weeks after coronavirus. It manifests as fever with rashes, red eyes, diarrhea, vomiting, pain abdomen, lethargy, etc. Since children may have had no symptoms with past coronavirus infection, this syndrome may be the cause of the first occurrence of fever. Therefore, any child with fever or any other symptoms should consult a paediatrician.
While healthcare gears up for future waves, it is important for adults around children to continue taking precautions such as double masking, social distancing, hand sanitization, etc. With current information that the virus may be airborne, it is important to understand that it is easier to get infected. As soon as lockdown rules are lifted, there will again be movement at malls, marketplaces, and family gatherings.
Adults need to continue with precautions, with or without lockdown restrictions and avoid crowded places with kids. They need to be good role models, and teach kids hand washing, as well as wearing masks correctly.
There are no recommendations for use of masks till the age of two. Even beyond two years, the masks have to be age-appropriate. The kids, therefore, have lesser protection than adults. The adults who engage with kids need to make sure they don’t pass it on to them. With schools shut, kids are not bringing the infection home, but acquiring it from adults at home or in the neighbourhood.
Keeping kids healthy with good nutrition and physical activity should be of prime concern. It is important for good health and immunity.
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Online consults have made it easy to connect with specialist doctors. If anybody at home tests positive for covid-19, and you have children at home, please consult with your paediatrician who will guide you through this period.
Many young children need different vaccinations as per the immunization schedule to protect them from other illnesses such as measles etc. It is critical not to miss these vaccinations and get them administered as soon as possible, as safely as possible.
There is no way to tell when the corona crisis will be over. Vaccination against coronavirus for all is probably the solution. While that happens we should continue to take all precautions. The present explosive wave has taught us that.
The medical care of children is very different from that of adults. Children need a dedicated space with much-focused care. There needs to be trained staff and doctors especially for intensive care; they need appropriate equipment and medication. They need continuous monitoring and support by other services. There are parents with children and they often need support. Keep all this in mind and navigating the third wave will be a little simpler!