Covid-19: Debate rages over pediatric care

Covid-19: Debate rages over pediatric care

People seen at the State Level Virus Research and Diagnostic Laboratory at Victoria Hospital, Bengaluru, on Thursday. DH Photo/Pushkar V

As the number of COVID-19 cases rise, the spotlight has fallen on the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases (RGICD) where patients testing positive to coronavirus are admitted.

Doctors at the institute — which mainly treats tuberculosis and chest and respiratory diseases — say the four patients currently treated for the infection are responding well.

When asked if the 13-year-old girl with the Covid-19 infection would require the attention of pediatric pulmonologists, RGICD director Dr C Nagaraj said: “There are six isolation beds in the Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health. Should the girl need treatment from pediatric pulmonologists, we’ll approach them.” 

Health minister B Sriramulu also said young and pediatric patients do not need special care or treatment, while minister of medical education Sudhakar said the treatment for the 13-year-old will be the same as the adult patients.

“The only important thing, in this case, is that the patient should respond. If they do, there is no need for pediatric specialists,” said Sudhakar.

However, experts like Dr Illin Kinimi, a pediatric pulmonologist from Manipal Hospital, believe that the girl should be given specialist care.

“A general physician can manage basic things like screening. But if the child gets sick, the pediatric pulmonologist and pediatric intensivist should take care,” Dr Illin said.

Dr Chetan Ginigeri, consultant, pediatric ICU at Aster CMI Hospital, said a general paediatrician can care for the patient if the symptoms exist for four to five days. “Beyond that, if the child has rapid breathing or high-grade fever, that is when pediatric pulmonologist or pediatric intensivists step in,” he said.

Meanwhile, patients are flooding RGICD from January 20, the day the Airport Health Organisation began screening international passengers with thermal scanners for high fever. Anyone with flu-like symptoms enters the hospital and demands a coronavirus test. The demand has prompted RGICD to set up separate desks for general patients and travellers. However, not everyone showing symptoms are tested, as the paramedics outside the Covid-19 isolation ward take note on the patient’s travel details, besides checking blood pressure and temperature.

“Only people who had been to the affected countries are tested (for Covid-19),” said a paramedic.

RGICD has 50 specialists across different categories such as pulmonologists, cardiologists, paediatricians, physicians, anaesthetists, and cardiothoracic surgeons.

Among them, two pulmonologists, a cardiologist and two paediatricians are treating the infected people.

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