Over 5% of Tamil Nadu’s Covid-19 cases are children; health experts say no reason to worry 

Written By: Sidharth MP WION
CHENNAI Published: May 08, 2020, 03.58 PM(IST)

Chennai among the red zones Photograph:( ANI )

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 A closer look at the government data also reveals that a little over 5 per cent (273/5409) of Tamil Nadu’s Corona Virus positive cases are children who are aged 12 and below.

Over the last couple of days, Tamil Nadu has been witnessing its highest ever spike in cases with the daily new case figures ranging between 500 and 771.  A closer look at the government data also reveals that a little over 5 per cent (273/5409) of Tamil Nadu’s Corona Virus positive cases are children who are aged 12 and below. Nearly 60 children in this age category alone were infected over the last 48 hours. WION spoke to Doctors and Medical experts from the Government and Private sector to understand what these many numbers of Covid-19 cases among children mean. 

Dr Subramanian Swaminathan 

Infectious Diseases Specialist

This increase in cases among children is very much an expected trend and cases in children will grow in parallel with cases in adults. Initially, the testing was maximum in adults and now as more children are being tested we have more cases turning positive. We must also realize that social distancing doesn’t apply to children, especially in the below 12 age group. Even when we don’t have children stepping out of homes, there is a possibility of transmission from a parent who goes out for work. That is exactly why we have schools being held in abeyance for as long as possible. It is difficult to read patterns from the numbers in children, but certainly, there is no point in mass-testing among children, as children eventually recover and the high-risk category are the elderly and those with other ailments.

Dr K Kolandaisamy 

Retired Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine

Our strategy is to delay the spread of the virus, we have been testing and isolating the positive cases and their contacts. It is only natural that children also get infected from their contacts at home, but there is nothing to worry about it. The real risk is for the elderly, cancer patients, those who have undergone organ transplants and those with other medical complications, lifestyle disorders. It is this high-risk portion of our population that needs the maximum protection. When healthy people get affected, they are asymptomatic (no or very fewer symptoms) and have the immunity to recover from it, and this applies to children and those who are maintaining good health, irrespective of age. 

Right from the time of the swine flu outbreak, our health department has been following the strategy of posting staff who are between 25-50 years of age in the frontlines. Those who are above 50 and have existing health issues are posted on the desk, data entry jobs that minimize their exposure to risk. We always ensure the frontline staff are aged below 50, besides being non-smokers, non-diabetic and free of co-morbidities. If we save the vulnerable population, then there is no need to worry even when the numbers are rising. 

Madhusudhan Reddy, Joint Commissioner (Health), Chennai Corporation 

The purpose of the lockdown is to slow the spread of the virus and ensure that the government machinery, infrastructure has adequate time to respond to people’s needs and saves lives. While the lockdown cannot eradicate the virus, it can delay the transmission so that the medical facilities can cope up with the increasing cases. It is certain that an eternal lockdown is also not possible due to the social-economic harm that it can cause. The public must not worry about the spike in numbers, as it is a result of increased testing. For instance, Tamil Nadu had done a total of nearly 3000 tests as on April 1st, but as on date, the total tests have exceeded 2 lakh. Presently we are testing over 13,000 people on a daily basis and this includes entire families as well.

Initially, most of the cases we observed were the middle-aged males who had stepped outside for work, but with time it spread to the women in the house, the elderly and eventually also children. With more testing, gender balance and age balance will be achieved.

Dr K.E.Vivekanandan, Head of the Dept, 

Professor of Pediatrics, Govt Kilpauk Medical College, Chennai 

We have seen about 30 Pediatric Covid-19 cases in our hospital so far, but there has been no serious case. A good number of them have been discharged and some of them are under quarantine in the hospital post-recovery. We have seen positive cases in newborn babies as well, but even then, with mother’s milk alone and nil medication, we are able to treat them. If they are older than a year we prescribe certain medicines that aid in the recovery. A normal diet along with some vitamin syrups are what we prescribe for the little patients in our care.

All the pediatric cases we have seen in our hospital so far are asymptomatic and the infection was transmitted from their parents. Since the children themselves don’t go out, they get it from their parents and elders. So, when we have a Covid-19 positive child, naturally there would be a positive case in the same house, or perhaps they could have been living in a containment zone with many cases. We have seen a total healing rate in kids and there was no instance of high fever or cough or breathlessness. In the case of mid cold and flu, we provide the usual medication and syrups. If there are children living in containment zones who are exhibiting mild symptoms, it is better for parents to take them to the nearest health centre.

Even for a majority of adults in our hospital, we have seen that there are no symptoms at all. They would be totally normal but they test Covid-19 positive. The way ahead is to intensify testing even further in the risky areas, containment zones in the cities where cases are high.

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