Addressing the concerns of parents during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, experts at The Hindu’s webinar as part of the Wellness Series, emphasised that in a majority of cases, children experience only mild symptoms and recover well at home.
The webinar titled ‘COVID-19 and Children’, presented by Kauvery Hospital, had three panellists: Janani Sankar, a senior consultant paediatrician at Kanchi Kamakoti CHILDS Trust Hospital, Chennai; D. Senguttavan, chief consultant paediatrician, and D. Suresh Chelliah, a senior consultant paediatrician, both from Kauvery Hospital in Tiruchi.
On worries that children were being more affected during this wave, Dr. Chelliah said that was not the case and children were less affected than adults. “More children are being identified because we are testing more than last year,” he said. Common symptoms, he added, were cough, runny nose, irritability, refusal to eat and fever. “Most children will recover at home but in case of a persisting fever and difficulties in breathing or vomiting, parents must take the child to a doctor,” Dr. Chelliah said.
Dr. Sankar said very few children required hospital admission. Most were given symptomatic treatment at home. “Children who do get admitted are usually older or those with respiratory symptoms, who have been admitted due to fear of pneumonia,” she said, and even they recovered well. She also spoke about multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), which usually occurred a few weeks after the viral infection.. “These children require immediate care,” she said, but added that when identified and treated in time, they also recovered well.
Dr. Senguttavan highlighted the need for children suffering from chronic illnesses to continue receiving medical care. He also spoke about the pyscho-social effects of the lockdown on children, and gave parents tips on how to help them cope. “COVID-19 can also affect the mental health of the child...there is not much awareness in this area,” he said. Fear of the virus and schools being closed could affect children, he added. Reducing negative talk, teaching children about COVID-19 with reliable information and connecting with extended family virtually were some of the steps he recommended.
A number of audience questions were answered, including precautions to be taken while breast-feeding an infant when COVID-19 positive, the procedure to take care of asymptomatic children at home and suggestions for safety measures to be considered for children while playing outdoors.