The United Nations Children’s Fund highlights that though children are not the face of Covid-19 pandemic, they risk being among its biggest victims since their lives are being changed in profound ways amid this universal crisis hence, for some children, the impact will be lifelong.
In its data, UNICEF claimed, “All children, of all ages, and in all countries, are being affected, in particular by the socio-economic impacts and, in some cases, by mitigation measures that may inadvertently do more harm than good.” The data added, “Moreover, the harmful effects of this pandemic will not be distributed equally. They are expected to be most damaging for children in the poorest countries, and in the poorest neighbourhoods, and for those in already disadvantaged or vulnerable situations.”
Since the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic saw many cases of children getting infected from the deadly virus, it is essential for parents to be aware of the symptoms so as to seek medical help immediately. Dr Nishant Bansal, Consultant Neonatologist at Motherhood Hospital in Noida, backs the same by asserting, “It (Covid-19 infection) starts off with milder symptoms in kids but it gets severe if it’s not being taken seriously.”
Symptoms in kids:
He lists a range of Covid-19 symptoms in children which includes –
3. Trouble breathing
4. Symptoms of a cold such as a sore throat, congestion or a runny nose
6. Muscle pain
8. A loss of taste or smell in children above 8 years of age
9. Nausea or vomiting
It has been noted that the inflammation throughout the body remains a major concern, for sometimes even several weeks, after they were infected with the virus. “This is called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). Doctors are still trying to find out how these symptoms are related to the coronavirus pandemic,” says Dr Nishant Bansal.
He added, “If your kid is suffering from MIS-C then he/she might have trouble breathing, pain or pressure in the chest, bluish lips or face, confusion, or trouble staying awake. Such symptoms should not be ignored and the kid should be taken to the hospital. It has been observed that those kids get better with hospital care, sometimes ICU admissions.”
He revealed that the additional symptoms of MIS-C include –
2. Belly pain
3. Vomiting or diarrhea
4. A rash
5. Neck pain
6. Red eyes
7. Feeling very tired
8. Red, cracked lips
9. Swollen hands or feet
10 Swollen glands (lymph nodes)
According to Dr Nishant, the doctor will see and examine the condition of the child and then decide how to go about it – whether the child can be treated at home or should come in for a visit or can have a video or telehealth visit.
To keep other members safe, if the child has symptoms, Dr Nishant suggests –
1. It’s essential that all the family members stay at home until their test reports arrive.
2. Make sure that people and pets in the house are away from your child as much as possible.
3. Ensure that only one person in the family is handling the care of the sick child.
4. If the infected child is above two-years-old then he/she should wear a mask at least for the time when the caregiver is in the room.
5. Don’t leave the child alone for a long time by putting on his/her mask.
6. If the sick child is using the same washroom then wipe down the bathroom with disinfectant after he/she uses it.
7. Other family members should sanitize their hands at regular intervals.
8. However, the family should not panic. Covid-19 vaccines are now available for people 18 and older. Even the doses for infants are on trial currently. Everyone should get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible.
The World Health Organisation cautions that the “virus can spread from an infected person’s mouth or nose in small liquid particles when they cough, sneeze, speak, sing or breathe. These particles range from larger respiratory droplets to smaller aerosols.” Hence, suggesting the best way to prevent and slow down transmission, the WHO recommends, “Protect yourself and others from infection by staying at least 1 metre apart from others, wearing a properly fitted mask and washing your hands or using an alcohol-based rub frequently. Get vaccinated when it’s your turn and follow local guidance.”
It adds, “It is important to practice respiratory etiquette, for example by coughing into a flexed elbow and to stay home and self-isolate until you recover if you feel unwell.”