Over 3.4 lakh children likely to be hit during third wave: Panel
The high-level expert committee set up by the State government to analyse, advise and control the third wave of COVID-19 has estimated that around 3.4 lakh out of the total 2.3 crore population in the State, who are in the 0-18 age group, might get infected during the peak.
The 13-member panel, headed by cardiologist Devi Prasad Shetty, based on projections by IISc., has said that 80%-85% of children are likely to get mild disease (asymptomatic).
“Most of these children can be managed at home with clear guidelines on home isolation. About 15% of infected children may not have facilities for home isolation and may require COVID Care Centres (CCCs),” according to the interim report submitted by the panel to the Chief Minister on Tuesday.
Paediatric intensive care
“While about 6% of children may need specialist care and close monitoring, they may need facilities for tele-consultation to review their status frequently, and nearly 7% of children may need facilities that can provide supplemental oxygen and close monitoring. About 2% of children may need paediatric intensive care facilities,” the report stated.
In the best case scenario, where the infection is mild and less transmissible, the capacity requirement will be the lowest with minimum number of patients requiring medical intervention. In such a scenario, 90% of the affected children will be asymptomatic and only 2% will be critical. While 13,602 will require hospitalisation, 6,801 will need ICU/HDU beds and 30,605 will need CCC beds.
In a moderate scenario, 85% of the affected children will be asymptomatic and 2% will be critical. As many as 23,804 children may require hospitalisation, while 6,801 may require admission to ICUs.
Besides, 43,358 would require beds at CCCs.
In the worst case scenario, where the infection is particularly virulent and transmissible and a maximum number of patients need medical intervention, 80% of cases will be asymptomatic and 4% will be critical. While 27,205 children will need hospitalisation, 13,602 will need ICU/HDU beds and 54,409 CCC beds, according to the report.
Bengaluru is likely to be the worst hit with 45,958 children getting infected during the third wave peak, followed by Belagavi where 28,546 are likely to be hit.
Need for post-COVID care
Children who suffer from severe COVID-19 infection, especially those who may need invasive ventilation will need enhanced care on follow up, the report by the 13-member panel said.
They can develop post discharge complications – infections (pneumonia, invasive fungal infections including mucormycosis), thromboembolism, progressive fibrosis and hypoxemia apart from Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C). However, as children have good regenerative capacity the likelihood of persistent pulmonary dysfunction and need for home oxygen therapy is likely to be less, the report added.
Alternative testing methods
As nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swabs can cause discomfort and pain making it quite challenging in children, the expert panel has recommended alternative methods such as throat gargle RT-PCR, which is approved by ICMR. Besides, Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) and salivary RT-PCR, which is yet to be validated by ICMR, is also highly suitable for paediatric patients, the report stated.