Parenting Guide: Will the third wave of the pandemic affect children? | Morung Express
New Delhi, July 5 (IANSlife) The deadliest second wave in 2021 has left parents searching for information on how to protect their children and what to do if their child, or a family member, shows symptoms of Covid-19 or is positive. Because once a person has been infected, virtually everyone in the family has been infected this time around, suggesting high infectivity.
As the virus continues to evolve, as a practicing pediatrician I see 20-30 positive children per week – with symptoms like cough, fever or chills, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, muscle pain. or bodily, sore throat. These symptoms are very similar to those in adults and often confused with the seasonal flu which was very common at this time of year. But do we realize that all of this is an indication that the third wave is not waiting to happen? It’s already there. Unlike the first wave, entire households are now infected with the virus and are likely to impact children as well.
Can children get Covid-19 INFECTION?
In the first wave we all said that Covid-19 does not infect children because they have less ACE2 receptors in their lungs, but this, it is important for parents to know, it is possible for anyone , of any age, to contract Covid-19 – including children. If anyone could predict a pandemic, we wouldn’t have had a pandemic. Pandemic behavior and virus mutations are also left to the imagination. In general, the pandemics of the past lasted almost 2 years before ceasing to cause agony.
As the number of cases continues to increase, children infected with Covid-19 may be asymptomatic, mildly symptomatic, moderately ill, or seriously ill. Asymptomatic children are usually identified during screening. These children do not require any treatment, except monitoring for symptom development and subsequent treatment according to the assessed severity. In such cases, apart from plenty of fluids and paracetamol, if they have a fever, they should be the immediate remedy. Children with mild illness may present with sore throat, diarrhea, cough without difficulty in breathing. Few children may have gastrointestinal symptoms such as severe stomach pain. Most children, 99%, get a mild infection and do not need treatment. However, 1% or even less than 1% of children get serious illness, unlike adults where 5-6% of people are known to get serious illness. Serious illnesses in children are generally less common because they do not have many comorbidities unlike adults like diabetes, COPD, cancer, hypertension, heart disease, etc.
Precautions: what should parents do?
Infection in children is usually not common because they have fewer ACE2 receptors. But that doesn’t mean they won’t get infected. But the type of infection we see in the elderly, like lack of oxygen, is unlikely to occur in children – for a variety of reasons, including fewer ACE2 receptors in the lungs and less morbidity like absence of heart disease, hypertension, obesity, etc. known to contract multisystem diseases which are still rare. In April-May 2021, Maharashtra reported nearly 29,000,000 new cases and 99,000 were children among them under the age of 10 (accounting for 3.5% of total cases).
Gujarat has seen a similar trend and many newborns have been affected. This means that in this second wave we are already seeing affected newborns and children – and seeing the first and second wave – we have followed exactly 1.5-2 months after the US and UK. In the first wave everyone predicted that we are a country with BCG given that is why we are not affected, we had the first wave after 2 months of them. Second wave, we were naive when UK and US suffered, we got it after 2 months.
Now, with vaccinations and other preventative measures, the UK and US have all returned to normal lives – why will we have a 3rd wave? It’s just an “overboard prediction” because we were ridiculed for not predicting the second wave. Parents need to know that children react to adult behavior – children already suffer from mental illness due to loneliness, parental anxiety, lack of interaction with other children, lack of school , etc. … the last thing we need is to create more anxiety and fear in them to hurt them for life. Let’s be reasonable and get vaccinated – so children don’t get sick if adults are protected.
* Always maintain a physical distance and stay home as much as possible, unless going for urgent medical treatment or supplies.
* Wear masks (preferably an N95 mask without a valve) when you are outdoors and make sure the face mask covers your nose. Children over two years old can also wear a mask.
* Continuously wash your hands with soap or use 70 percent sanitizer, making sure the entire surface of the hands is covered.
* Avoid attending public functions, avoid social gatherings, and avoid group games
* Discuss, demonstrate and reiterate the importance of appropriate Covid-19 (CAB) behavior with your children.
When to have your child tested
Always remember – to begin with, don’t panic. If you have a family member with a positive Covid-19 report, you should isolate yourself immediately, in a room separate from the rest of the family (if possible). Children should be moved to another room or to another house (this can be that of a friend or relative). If by chance the child develops a fever, it is difficult to tell the difference between a simple cold / fever and Covid-19 without testing. It could also be a signal that every case of fever or cough in your child may or may not be Covid-19 – especially if a family member is suffering from Covid-19 or has recently recovered from the virus. However a test is compulsory.
Parents or guardian should maintain a monitoring chart, including counting respiratory rates 2-3 times a day, when the child is not crying, looking for chest drawing, any body discoloration, cold extremities, urine output , monitoring oxygen saturation (hand held pulse oximeter) if possible, fluid intake, activity level, especially for young children. In a small baby, monitors like “raybaby” can be used to monitor the baby’s breathing.
When going out in public, adults and children should wear a mask that covers both the nose and mouth, especially in situations outside the home where physical distancing is not possible. Parents should help young children practice wearing masks before returning to school so children are comfortable wearing them in class. Children should wash their hands after using the toilet, sneezing, coughing or blowing their nose, before eating (even snacks) and immediately after returning home after playing outside.
Last but not least, even though there is no proof that there will be a 3rd wave affecting only children, we must prepare for the worst until the end of this pandemic – which will be declared by the WHO and nobody else. What we need to remember is that the adult population remains at a higher risk of moderate to severe disease, and children are infected by adults. Preventive measures are therefore the best steps you can take to protect your children, but without causing them mental stress and anxiety.
(Kishore Kumar is the Founder, President and Neonatologist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Bengaluru and also a graduate in Healthcare Delivery from Harvard Business School)