The Union Health Ministry has warned that if the novel coronavirus changes its nature, then the impact of the virus could increase on children. Its impact can increase among them if there is a change in virus behaviour or epidemiology dynamics, and said preparations are on to deal with any such situation.
NITI Aayog member VK Paul said that two to three per cent of children may need hospitalization. Dr Paul, who is also head of India’s Covid-19 task force, further added that the centre is keeping an eye on infections in children ahead of the third wave of Covid. "We reassure you that the needs of the paediatric population will be arranged and no gaps will be left," he said, adding "we will do an audit of what is required and would be required in the worst-case scenario and be put into action."
“Although children get mild Covid and only 2-3% children may need hospitalisation, we are preparing for it,” Paul said adding the Health Ministry is preparing for pediatric doses. “An expert group has been formed and new guidelines will be released,” he said at a health ministry press briefing.
“After six weeks of recovery, few children experience fever, body ache and may show a bleeding tendency. This is multi-system inflammation,” Paul warned.
Addressing a press conference, Paul said multi-system inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) has been seen post-COVID among children and a national group has been formed to look into the pediatric complications related to the infection.
Paul said the children are generally asymptomatic or symptoms are minimal.
"Even if they get infected, it does not take a serious shape and hospitalisation is rarely required.
"But this situation in the paediatric population can change if the virus changes its behaviour or if there are changes in epidemiology dynamics, so then it can happen that COVID impact can increase in children," he said.
In children, two forms of Covid are seen, he said.
One is that the child gets a fever, then cough and cold. This translates to pneumonia which increases and deteriorates and the child gets hospitalised, he said.
"It was also seen that after Covid gets cured, after 2-6 weeks in some children again fever and rash comes and eyes get inflamed and diarrhoea, vomiting and bleeding tendency is seen... this syndrome is called multi-system inflammatory syndrome," Paul said.
This is post-Covid and is a unique disease seen among children. Guidelines have been established for understanding its development, he said.
"Multi-system inflammatory syndrome does not have a difficult treatment but it must be timely," Paul added.
Paul said that 2-3 percent of children infected with Covid might need hospitalisation.
"We have looked into scientific developments in the matter systematically and the data we have shows that admission of children in large Covid facilities is very small. It has not happened till now that paediatric infrastructure was unusually burdened with cases," he added.
But keeping in view all kinds of scenarios, Paul said a national group has been formed to look into it.
"In short, we are happy to report to you that we are working very systematically and comprehensively to address the problem of paediatric COVID disease now as well as into the future and we will strengthen our facilities as required," he said.
With PTI inputs