By Ajita Rijal
Kathmandu, June 3:Health experts fear the possibility of children being more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection if a new variant of virus emerges.
During the first wave, 2 to 3 per cent children were infected and in the second wave, the infection rate in children is more than 10 per cent, said Dr. RP Bichha, Director of Kanti Children’s Hospital.
As the virus is changing its face and with many mutant viral strains emerging, it is necessary to follow all protocols related to COVID-19 and take precautions to keep children safe and sound, said Dr. Bichha.
Though very few fatalities has been reported among children, the COVID infected children are at risk of developing post COVID symptoms of multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS), experts warn.
Considering the high risk among children, Dr. Bichha said that there are plans to increase High Dependency Unit and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds with ventilators at Kanti Children’s Hospital.
According to Dr. Bichha, the Hospital has listed guidelines for COVID-19 treatment for children. These guidelines are category-based on infection severity, mild and asymptomatic, moderate and severe.
He suggests establishing COVID dedicated hospitals in all Provinces especially for children to deal with possible emergence of new variant.
Dr. Krishna Prasad Poudel, Spokesperson at the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP), said that the government was working side by side for ensuring the necessary health infrastructure to treat children.
Dr. Basu Dev Pandey, a virologist, said that as the new variants spread more easily, we need to keep doing all the things we’ve been doing since the outbreak of the pandemic, including social-distancing, wearing mask, washing hands, quarantine if exposed, get tested immediately and keeping indoor areas well ventilated.
COVID-19 can only be fought by speeding up the immunisation process. Therefore, we should make efforts to develop vaccines for children, said Dr. Pandey, adding that vaccine was the only way to drive down COVID-19 cases and ultimately end the pandemic.
As a vaccine is the only way to keep the COVID infection at bay, Dr. Bichha said that if 50-60 per cent of the population is immunised with COVID vaccines, children could be safe.
Dr. Poudel said that the government would definitely work out to immunise children after the availability of vaccines in the world market.
–The Rising Nepal