“There will be no deficiency in the care and infrastructure required for children if the COVID-19 affects them”, said Dr. V K Paul, the NITI Aayog member, during the media briefing of the Union Health Ministry on Tuesday. He further added, “COVID-19 in children is often asymptomatic and rarely requires hospitalisation. However, changes in epidemiological dynamics or viral behaviour can alter the situation and increase the prevalence of infection.”
The NITI Aayog health member also informed that so far no undue burden has been placed on paediatric care infrastructure. Though, it is possible that 2-3% of children who get infected may need hospitalization.
The government has formed a National Expert Group to review COVID-19 infections in children and approach the pandemic in a renewed way to strengthen the nation’s preparedness. The Group has examined signs which were not available 4-5 months ago. It has prepared the guidelines on the basis of available data which includes clinical profile, disease dynamics, nature of the virus, and the experience of the country amid the pandemic. The guidelines are expected to be released shortly.
“While we have been systematically reviewing scientific developments in this area, the Group has been formed to take an updated view of the situation,” said Dr. V K Paul.
Two Forms of Paediatric COVID-19
The NITI Aayog health member informed that COVID-19 in children may take two forms. In the first form, symptoms like infection, cough, fever and pneumonia may occur requiring hospitalization also in some cases.
In the second form, after 2-6 weeks of COVID infection, 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, etc.
What is Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome?
The infection may not remain restricted only to complications like pneumonia affecting the lungs. It may spread to various parts of the body. This is called Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome, which is a post-COVID symptom.
In this case, the virus will not be found in the body and the RT-PCR test will also come negative. But antibody tests will show that the child had been infected by COVID.
The govt body said that the guidelines are being formulated to treat this unique disease found in some children, which presents itself as an emergency situation. Though treatment is not difficult, it has to be timely.