Delhi has currently 51 Covid patients in hospitals, real-time data on the Delhi Corona app reveals. Of these, at least 14 (27%) are children — 12 in Kalawati Saran Children’s hospital (KSCH) and one each in Indraprastha Apollo and Madhukar Rainbow Children’s hospital (MRCH). However, most of children being admitted with Covid have other underlying illnesses, Dr Srikanta Basu, senior professor in paediatrics at Kalawati Saran Children’s hospital said.
“Normally, Covid-19 in children does not cause severe illness. Most recover at home,” he added.
Meanwhile, Delhi reported 366 fresh Covid cases on Friday, up from 325 on the previous day and the highest daily tally in 47 days since February 27. The daily positivity rate too jumped to 3.95% as testing dipped to under 10,000 on Thursday.
Dr Anamika Dubey, senior consultant, paediatrics at Madhukar Rainbow Children’s hospital, said the presentation of Covid-19 in children is different from adults.
“In small kids, the initial symptom is vomiting, followed by high-grade fever and diarrhoea. Older kids often complain about a persistent headache. Lung involvement is extremely rare in children, unlike in adults,” Dr Dubey said.
At Apollo hospital, doctors said they have only one admission in the paediatric age group due to Covid-19. “The seven-year-old had kidney disease which necessitated hospitalisation for better care and monitoring,” Dr Nameet Jerath, paediatric intensive care specialist at Apollo hospital said.
Doctors say the real burden of Covid, in both in adults and children, isn’t known because this time many people are preferring to isolate themselves at home if they have come in contact with a positive case or have disease symptoms. “We are seeing around 10-15% increase in incidence of febrile illness in children this month as compared to the pre-Covid period. This is unusually high and perhaps it may be linked to Covid. But most parents don’t want tests done unless the symptoms are severe,” Dr Dubey from Madhukar Rainbow Children’s hospital said.
Dr Dhiren Gupta, paediatric pulmonologist at Sir Ganga Ram hospital said initial trends show Covid is affecting children more this time compared to the previous outbreaks. However, he added, it is difficult to reach any conclusion without detailed data. “There is no vaccine available for children under 12 years. Even in the 12 to 18-year age group, for which vaccine is available, uptake is slow. In such a circumstance, it is advisable that parents make sure that children are protected and they follow Covid appropriate behaviour wherever necessary. They shouldn’t panic though, as experience from the previous waves clearly show that the infection does not cause severe symptoms and hospitalisation needed, if any, was extremely rare,” Dr Arun Gupta, a paediatrician, who also heads the Delhi Medical Council, said.
Doctors say it is important to watch out for warning signs such as difficulty breathing/fast or shallow breathing, blue lips or face, chest pain or pressure or the inability to awaken/not interact when awake in children suffering from mild to moderate illness. Such patients may require immediate medical attention.