‘There are incidents of newborns being affected possibly through improper handling’.
New Delhi: The coronavirus situation in the country is getting worse in India with every passing day. However, unlike the first wave, the second wave is infecting more younger people and children. Several hospitals have reported that there is an increase in the number of younger patients amid the ongoing Covid surge. As per health experts, the impact of this second wave is taking a toll on the newborns and the youth. Some doctors also said that though there is no data to suggest mother-to-child transmission of the virus, there are incidents of newborns being affected. In most of these cases, the infants are stable and maybe the reason for the transfer of infection is through improper handling and not following the norms of Covid appropriate behaviour.
Dr Vinit Samdani, a pediatrician at the Bhatia Hospital Mumbai, told The Sunday Guardian: “Our demographic consists of maximum population between 30 to 55 years and below 18 years it is 41 percent; so with a rise in the incidents of Covid, there is a rise within these age group. Since there is a steep rise in cases and a lot of people have not been following Covid appropriate behaviour, there is a false belief that those who have taken the vaccine will not suffer. Also, people think that once they have suffered, the antibodies present in the body will protect them from the virus. These are the reasons for the surge. Covid in children is mild or asymptomatic in most cases and rarely severe. Inform doctors of fever of 99 to 100.9 and if there is cold and slight cough, children may have loose motions too. Supportive care should be given to children, ensure that your child is properly hydrated, paracetamol for fever should be given, and home isolation done for 10 days. Viruses are bound to mutate. We must not let our guard down.”
Dr Jesal Sheth, Senior Consultant-Paediatrician, Fortis Hospital, Mulund, told The Sunday Guardian: “We are still waiting on scientific data that can prove that the rapidly rising numbers in the second wave are because of original strain or mutant strain, and if the infectivity is more, compared to the previous year or not. The other factors which changed the scenario in 2021 were that in January and February children adopted the practice of socializing. Social gatherings, festivities, celebrations, outings, and sports gatherings had started. Inappropriate Covid behavior like masks below the nose, and lack of social distancing, was seen and it led to a significant increase in overall cases. Often, kids go to the garden to play, run, and can feel breathless; therefore, during play masking and social distancing measures are not strictly followed. Also, when one family member gets infected, subsequently, all family members get infected one after the other.”
On the increasing number of infants getting infected, Dr Jesal said that trans-placental transmission possibility is less than 0.5%. After birth, neonates, and children are acquiring infections from their caregiving family members.
Dr Rohit Arora, Head of Neonatology & Pediatric, Miracles Mediclinic & Apollo Cradle Hospital, Gurgaon, told The Sunday Guardian: “The biggest reason is that with vaccination, people thought Covid-19 is history. However, historically speaking, such outbreaks have always come back as the virus will make an effort to thrive. As people dropped their guard and resumed life as usual, the virus got a chance to proliferate. Also, the current shortage of medical oxygen and Remdesivir shows that we lacked in predicting that the virus can come back despite vaccines, and did not have adequate preparation.”
Diarrhea, vomiting, high fever, and cold are the common symptoms in children with Covid this time. Other signs are rashes, stomach ache, irritability, and unusual sleepiness. Since the treatment is symptomatic for all Covid patients, early diagnosis helps improve the chance of getting well. “One must not delay getting an RT-PCR if any of the symptoms are showing. However, in some cases, a multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) can happen in which the heart, brain, lungs, skin, kidneys, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs are affected. MIS-C can be fatal if not addressed in time,” Dr Arora said.
Dr Manish Mannan, HOD- Paediatrics & Neonatology, Paras Hospitals, Gurugram, told The Sunday Guardian: “When children do get the infection, they get much milder symptoms. Even data from a Chinese study of Covid-19 in children has confirmed slightly more than half of the children who participated in the survey showed mild symptoms of fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, and sneezing; while around a third showed signs of pneumonia, with frequent fever, a productive cough, and wheeze but without the shortness of breath and difficulty breathing seen in more severe cases.