KP experts seek data of Covid-19 prevalence in children

Updated April 07, 2020

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Students wearing protective mask in school after Indonesia confirmed its first cases of COVID-19 in Jakarta, Indonesia, March 4, 2020. REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana
Students wearing protective mask in school after Indonesia confirmed its first cases of COVID-19 in Jakarta, Indonesia, March 4, 2020. REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana

PESHAWAR: The provincial chapter of Pakistan Paediatric Association has expressed concerns over lack of data about the prevalence of Covid-19 among children.

PPA has offered its services to assist government to put up effective response and ensure safety of children and protect health workers in children wards of the hospitals.

It recommended that children should also practice hand-washing and social distancing to stay safe from the infection.

During a meeting held here on Monday with Prof Afzal Khan Khattak in the chair, PPA offered its assistance to the government to develop protocols for safety of children. It also appreciated the efforts being made by Health Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra for prevention of Covid-19 and asked him to take precautionary measures regarding child health.

“What we know is that children can be infected with and appear to be able to transmit coronavirus, even if they do not have symptoms. That’s why we paediatricians tell parents that children should also practice social distancing and hand-washing, even if they do not appear ill,” said participants of the meeting.

As the number of Covid-19 cases increases worldwide, parents trying to protect their children from the disease can take solace in one thing: the disease has generally been milder in children.

However, there are many unknown facts about coronavirus and research is ongoing but at the same time, paediatricians and other healthcare providers examining and treating children are also at risk of contracting the virus, if they don’t use personal protective equipment (PPEs).

Prof Afzal said that there was much more to be learned about how the disease impacted children. He said that if there was some provincial or national data, it should be shared with PPA.

He said that PPEs were not provided to paediatricians and other frontline health workers in the paediatric units of secondary and tertiary care hospitals that posed serious risk to their safety.

The protocols developed by government for Covid-19, doesn’t specifically mention paediatric age group which can be problematic.

The PPA provincial chief said that the next few weeks were crucial to determine the trajectory of the epidemic in the country.

Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2020