“We came across the first positive case among children this year on March 30 and we have already treated 17 children within two weeks. During the first wave, it took about three to four months for the number to reach 17,” said Dibyendu Raychaudhuri, assistant professor of paediatrics at Medical College.
In the past few days, paediatric intensivist Prabhas Prasun Giri has consulted at least 30 positive children aged between three months and 15 years.
“Due to the increased infection rate the chances of encountering more kids with moderate to severe infection are higher in the near future. There is an urgent need to ramp up Covid treatment facility for children,” said Giri, an associate professor at Institute of Child Health.
According to the doctors, during the first wave children mostly remained asymptomatic. But this time they are exhibiting symptoms like diarrhoea and vomiting.
“Children are coming mostly with complaints like diarrhoea and vomiting and they are so far recovering quickly. But given the kind of escalation in numbers, we might get sicker patients in future,” said Soumen Meur, paediatric intensivist at AMRI Hospitals, Mukundapur.
Public health expert at Swasthya Bhawan, Anirban Dalui, feels changes in the virus could also be contributing to the higher infectivity among children now. “Besides, during the first wave, people were more conscious and parents were working from home. Now they are going out to work, mostly disregarding Covid-appropriate behaviour and bringing the virus back home,” said Dalui.
“Given the increase in positive cases, who are so far mostly mildly symptomatic, we might start getting an increased number of MIS-C (multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children), a secondary post-Covid symptom in about a month’s time,” warned paediatrician Sumita Saha of Fortis Hospital.
Alarmed at the developing situation, Protect The Warriors (PTW), a doctors’ body, has written to health secretary Narayan Swaroop Nigam to issue a separate Covid management protocol for children.
“Many paediatricians who are part of PTW are getting an increased number of infected children that too with atypical symptoms. They feel the need for a separate treatment and management guideline for children as the previous guideline was meant for adult patients,” said PTW general secretary Abhik Ghosh, ENT and head and neck surgeon at Apollo.