India reported more than one lakh daily coronavirus cases for the first time on Monday with cases surging during the second wave of the pandemic.
According to Dr Subash Rao, Consultant Pediatrician at Reliance Hospital and Fortis Hospital, Navi Mumbai, the Covid-19 virus has undergone a double mutation (changes in genetic structure), and the current strain is highly infectious infecting many people, especially children.
Answering the most frequent queries of parents about the impact of Coronavirus on children, Dr Rao said that a reverse trend is being seen in the second wave where children develop symptoms before the adults.
"The second wave of Covid is known to affect the children much more than in the first wave. Also, a reverse trend is being seen that is – children develop symptoms first, and then adults are getting it from them. The difference is while in the first wave most of the children were asymptomatic, in the second wave they are coming with symptoms like fever, cold, dry cough, loose motions, vomiting, not feeding well, fatigue, loss of appetite, among other common symptoms. Few may also have breathing difficulties and rashes like any other viral fever," he said.
"Also another reason of rising infection among children is increasing exposure due to playing outdoor, travelling and inappropriate behaviour and laxity," he added.
The paediatrician said that if a child is showing symptoms of Covid-19 infection, an RT PCR test should be done by the second day.
"Don't delay or hesitate out of fear to do the test. Early diagnosis helps in early treatment. In case of an asymptomatic child with both parents Covid-19 positive, there is no need for a test but they should be kept in home quarantine for 14 days," he told the parents.
The doctor said if a child had a fever for two days, but recovered later, they should be home quarantined for 14 days unless they were tested for Covid-19 and their report is negative on the fifth day.Keep in mind children can act as silent carriers or "super- spreaders" and spread it to other children and adults, who can suffer severe diseases," he said.
He added the in case a parent is tested positive, it is the "most dangerous" thing to send the children to live with someone else.
"Keep in mind your child would already be harbouring the virus even though they have no symptoms. They can innocently pass on the infection to the elders where you have sent them. Hence it would be wiser to keep them in your home along with you quarantined for 14 days. If possible isolate the index (affected) patient in a separate room and other members who are unaffected can remain in the same house," he said.
Dr Rao said that in case a child tests positive for Covid-19, there is no need to rush them to the hospital and have them admitted.
"They can be monitored at home after consulting the pediatrician. Watch for red flag and danger signs of breathlessness, fever beyond five days, poor oral intake, rash among other symptoms," he said.
He added that even if one member of the family is Covid-19 positive, the entire family should quarantine for 14 days.
"However, if going out of home is inevitable, then Covid RT PCR test can be done on day 5 for asymptomatic members. If the report is negative, they can go out," Dr Rao said.
Dr Rao further added that even if people have been vaccinated or have tested positive and recovered, they still need to wear masks and follow other Covid-19 norms.
"No vaccine for any disease gives 100 per cent protection. Of course, they do protect against severe disease as studies have shown. So one must wear a mask even though they have taken the vaccine, for their own and others protection," he said.
He added that because at present there is no approval to use the Covid vaccine on children, hence people should sanitize hands, wear a mask when going out and practice social distancing.
"Adults are role models for children. As parents what you practice your kids will copy the same," he concluded.