Over 34K kids tested Covid+ve in Assam in last 3 months

Over 34,000 children tested Covid-19 positive in Assam in last three months

34 among them succumbed to the virus so far

Rupa Hazarika, a member of Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights visiting Tezpur Medical College and Hospital on Sunday, where 11 Covid-19 positive children have been admitted. Credit: ASCPCR, Guwahati

As many as 34,606 children tested positive for Covid-19 positive since April this year, of which, 34 succumbed to the virus so far.

This was 12 per cent of the total number of 2,80,504 Covid-19 positive cases reported in the state in the second wave so far. In the first wave last year, eight per cent of the total Covid-19 positive persons were found to be below 18 years.

A statement issued by National Health Mission, Assam said analysis showed that a total of 5,755 cases belonged to children aged below five years
and 28,851 were of those between six to 18 years age group.

As the numbers disclosed on Monday left many worried, Health Minister Keshav Mahanta said many of the children who died was having co-morbidities like congenital diseases (heart, kidney and rare malformations), especially among those below five years.

Also Read | Assam imposes total curfew in 3 districts, 1 sub-division still reporting high Covid-19 cases

"During the ongoing Assam Community Surveillance Program Phase 3, many children staying with Covid positive parents/guardians who opted for home isolation, subsequently tested Covid positive. Therefore it is advisable that parents/guardians who have tested Covid positive should preferably opt for institutional quarantine instead of home quarantine so that the spread of Covid-19 among children can be prevented," Mahanta said.

Kamrup Metro district (including Guwahati) reported the maximum of  5,346 children infected with coronavirus. This was 10.04% of the total casees (53,251) in the district since April this year. Dibrugarh reported 2,430 cases among children, which was 12.19% of total cases.

Nagaon was third with 2,288 cases (14.38%) followed by Kamrup (2,023) and Sonitpur (1,839).

At least 11 specially-abled children in the Missionaries of Charity in Tezpur (Sonitpur district) and five caretakers were shifted to Tezpur Medical College and Hospital (TMCH) after they tested Covid-19 positive.

Also Read | More than 50% children in Mumbai have Covid-19 antibodies: Sero-survey

Rupa Hazarika, a member of Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (ASCPCR), who rushed to TMCH in Sunday, told DH that all the children were found asymptomatic but were shifted to hospital for better care and proper isolation. "The hospital officials and the district administration officials said all necessary measures have been taken for their care. But we have now written to deputy commissioners of all the districts for necessary steps given the fact that children have also been infected in other districts too," she said.

A team of the commission comprising Chairperson Sunita Changkakoti and Hazarika is also scheduled to visit Jorhat, Dibrugarh and Nagaon on Wednesday to take stock of the measures taken to take care of Covid-19 positive children.

The health minister said steps have been taken to establish Covid-paediatric ICUs in all medical colleges and district hospitals. "More than 5,000 healthcare workers including doctors, nurses and paramedical staff have already been trained for better care. Staffs of 108 ambulance services have also been trained to transport such infected children with appropriate care," said the statement issued by NHM, Assam.

How to prevent Covid among children?

Doctors at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital said children who got the vaccines against pnumonia and flu are less likely to be infected with Covid. So the normal vaccines should be administered and the parents should try to ensure that children below five years remain at home unless it is necessary to go out.

A document released by NHM, Assam said children above two years should be encouraged to wash their hands frequently, maintain social distance and wear masks as far as possible. The floors, commonly-touched items including toys should be cleaned at least once in a day with 1% sodium hypochlorite, it said.

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