Taking congnisance of Covid-19 disease dynamics, NITI Aayog’s Member, Health, V.K. Paul on Tuesday warned that the pandemic may increase in children as there is a possibility of virus changing its behaviour.
The announcement raised a serious alarm as the paediatric population had no Covid-19 infections four-five months before.
Addressing a media briefing on Covid-19 here, Paul said a National Expert Group (NEG) has been formed to review the infection in children and approach the pandemic in a renewed way to strengthen the nation’s preparedness.
“While we have been systematically reviewing scientific developments in this area, the National Expert Group has been formed to take an updated view of the situation.”
The group has also considered available data, clinical profile, the country’s experience, disease dynamics, nature of the virus and the pandemic and has come up with guidelines, which will be publicly released soon, he said.
Noting that paediatric Covid-19 is gaining attention, Paul assured that there will be no deficiency in the care and infrastructure required for children who may get infected.
Noting that Covid in children is often asymptomatic and rarely requires hospitalisation, he, however, said that changes in epidemiological dynamics or viral behaviour can change the situation and increase prevalence of infection.
“The virus may change its behaviour in the paediatric population. The impact of Covid-19 may increase in children. The data has shown that a low number of children are being admitted to hospitals. We’re pushing preparedness.
“No undue burden has been placed on paediatric care infrastructure so far. However, it is possible that 2 per cent to 3 per cent of children who get infected may need hospitalisation,” he said.
Paul said that Covid-19 in children may take two forms. In one form, symptoms like infection, cough, fever and pneumonia may occur, followed in some cases by hospitalisation.
In the second case, he said, after 2-6 weeks of getting Covid, which may mostly be asymptomatic, a small proportion of children may show symptoms like fever, body rash, and inflammation of eyes or conjunctivitis, breathing troubles, diarrhoea, vomiting and so on.
“It may not remain restricted like pneumonia affecting lungs. It spreads to various parts of the body. This is called Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome. This is a post-Covid symptom.”
At this time, Paul said, the virus will not be found in the body and RT-PCR test will also come negative. “But an antibody test will show that the child had been infected by Covid.”
Guidelines are being formulated to treat this unique disease found in some children, which presents itself as an emergency situation, said Paul, adding “though treatment is not difficult, it has to be timely”.
He further said that vaccine trial for children is going on.