The health experts said decisions for home isolation of Covid-positive children must be taken in consultation with child specialists. The first and second wave of Covid pandemic severely affected the adult population, but of late more younger people have been infected.
“Now with the declining second wave in the country, the third wave is expected to begin by the month of September or October this year. It could be that children less than 18 years of age might be more affected. Having said so, Covid infection in the paediatric age group is usually mild with the possibility that two to three per cent of the affected children would require intensive care,” said Dr Dolly Kalita, a child specialist in a city hospital.
Instead of lowering the guard as parents or as members of society, she said people need to prepare themselves for the “upcoming third wave” without panicking, in a scientific and rational manner.
“All children above three years of age should be taught to wear a mask properly. Parents and other members of the family should also do the same. Children should be taught proper hand washing and hand sanitisation procedures. They should also be taught to avoid touching their face frequently,” said Kalita.
While a nutritious, well-balanced diet with adequate seasonal fruits and vegetables may keep the children fit, Covid vaccination of all the adult members of the family has been advised by the doctors. Nevertheless, a vaccinated adult can still become a carrier of the virus. “Parents also need to be aware of the danger signs which they should closely observe and monitor in their children during the period of home isolation. These signs include high fever lasting beyond four to five days, decreased oral intake by the child thereby leading to dehydration and decreased urine output, lethargy, breathing difficulty or decrease in oxygen saturation as measured by pulse oximeter,” she said, advising that during home isolation, parents should strictly follow advices, including proper hydration, nutritious food intake, isolation from the siblings and elderly people in the family.
According to the doctors, the most effective way to prevent Covid infection is to follow Covid-appropriate behavior — avoid crowded places, close contact with people with suspected symptoms or confined places with poor ventilation.
Mahendra Mohan Choudhury Hospital additional superintendent Dr Anupal Sarma said lack of vaccine shield has led to the speculation that the children will be worst hit. He, however, said that with little precautions, they can survive a third wave. “The biggest positive thing for the children is that most of them are free from co-morbidities. Our experience says their immunity is much better than the adults as many of them go through routine immunization at an early age,” he said.
MMCH was the first hospital in the Northeast to start a Covid care wing, especially for the children. But Sarma said mortality among the 160 Covid-infected children admitted in the hospital since last year was zero.