GUWAHATI: The Covid pandemic has been extremely tough for children who have been forced to cope up with unprecedented changes, be it online education in confined places or restricted exposure to friends and family.
But the new strain has made it even tougher as it is reportedly also affecting children.
Of 2,80,504 persons tested positive in the state from April 1 to June 26, 34,606 are children within the age group of 0 to 18 years, state health minister Keshab Mahanta said here on Monday.
From April 1 to June 26, the state has reported 34 deaths among the above category, many of them having co-morbidities like congenital diseases (heart, kidney, rare malformations, etc.), especially among less than 5 years.
The Covid-19 positivity rate among children was 8 percent during the first wave of the novel coronavirus pandemic in the state while it went up to 12 percent during the second wave, Mahanta said.
Further analysis showed that a total of 5,755 cases belonged to the age group of less than 5 years and 28,851 to 6 to 18 years age group of children in the second wave, Mahanta said.
According to an official statement of the National Health Mission (NHM), the Covid positive cases among children vary from district to district.
Kamrup Metro has the highest caseload of 5,346 children which stands at 10.04% out of the total caseload 53,251 of the district.
Dibrugarh follows next with 2,430 Covid cases, which stands at 12.19% of children infected out of total 19,937 cases.
Nagaon is placed third with 2,288 Covid cases, which stands at 14.38% of children infected out of total 15,910 cases.
Kamrup Rural is placed fourth with 2,023 Covid cases, which stands at 11.75% of children infected out of a total 17,216 cases.
Sonitpur is at fifth with 1,839 Covid cases, which stands at 13.89% of children infected against the total of 13,239 Covid cases.
Similarly, different districts have more or less number of Covid infected persons belonging to less than 18 years of age group.
“In several cases, when a mother is infected with Covid-19, they accompany their children to the Covid centres, hence the cases in children have also risen up in the state. Similarly, when a child gets infected with Covid, they are escorted by their mothers and they get infected. We are making an assessment on this and are looking forward to overcoming this issue soon,” the minister said.
“The state health department is strictly following the guidelines issued by the Central government regarding paediatric Covid management and has already initiated a slew of steps to address and manage Covid infection among the vulnerable age groups,” the minister said.
“Establishment of Covid Paediatric ICUs in all Medical Colleges and District Hospitals are at an advanced stage. More than 5,000 health care workers including doctors, nurses and paramedical staff have already been trained and are dealing with the patients so that we can save maximum lives. 108 ambulances have also been trained to transport such infected children with appropriate care,” he said.
A total of 1,961 afflicted children are from Nagaon district.
Of them, 1,677 have already recovered from the infection, while 284 children are undergoing treatment in hospital.
Of them 61 are below the age of six and 8 are below the age of one year while the rest are above the age of six, Mahanta said adding that the maximum number of children were luckily able to get free from the infection of the virus.
The minister further said that the state government had already started construction work of an RT-PCR Laboratory at Nagaon and it would be completed within the next 10-15 days.
The construction work of an RT-PCR Laboratory in Nagaon district is going on, Mahanta said, adding that when these two would be completed, there would be 19 RT-PCR Laboratories in the state.
Mahanta visited Nagaon and held a review meeting with the officials of district administration as well as the district health department at the DC’s conference hall on Monday.
The second wave of Covid-19 has proven to be dangerous for children below 18 years of age in Dibrugarh district.
This month, five children died of Covid-19 and out of that three of them had co-morbidities.
On Saturday, an 11 month old infant died at AMCH.
AMCH principal cum-chief superintendent Dr Sanjeeb Kakati said, “The condition of the 11 month infant was in bad shape when she was brought to AMCH from Tingkong. We immediately put the infant on ventilation support but after six hours of best efforts put forward by the team of doctors, the infant died at AMCH on Saturday evening.”
Dr Aditi Baruah, associate professor, paediatric department, AMCH said, “Till now 60 children infected with Covid-19 virus were admitted at AMCH pediatric department. Five died and out of the five fatalities, two died of Covid-19 and the other three had comorbidities. We are preparing another 50 ICU beds in our department.”
Dr Nabajyoti Gogoi, Dibrugarh district surveillance officer of Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme said, “At list 2,300 children were found Covid-19 positive from April 1, 2021 till date. Most of the viruses were delta variants which were found in the samples.”
When the correspondent asked about the third wave, Gogoi replied that there’s no possibility of a third wave because the majority of the population were affected by the virus already.
“In September and October things will be completely normal. The positivity rate is below 1% in Dibrugarh town. Most of the positive cases were detected from rural areas of Dibrugarh,” Gogoi added.
A total of six children tested Covid positive in Biswanath district on Monday. According to the information, the district health department had arranged a mass test of Covid-19 at Natun Gaon under Biswanath Ghat GP on Monday. A total of six children including an infant of ten months, two 5 years and one each of 9, 10 and 11 years tested Covid positive. The infected children have been shifted to Covid care centers.