Several doctors and paediatricians in Bengaluru Wednesday started special training sessions on managing Covid-19 in children, while Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa directed Anganwadi workers across the state to brace up for a possible third wave of the pandemic.
As preparations for the third wave, the state is focusing on the un-vaccinated people below 18 years of age, by setting up paediatric wards in all district hospitals and announcing a health check-up for children for the next three months. “It has been suggested that the third wave of the Covid pandemic will affect children the most. It is essential that we identify children who are malnourished and are affected by any ailment. Anganwadi workers must be in constant touch with the health department and must strive to combat the pandemic,” the CM said.
The health check-ups for children are to begin from the last week of June for a period of three months.
Home and Law Minister Basavaraj Bommai said such drives will begin from June 25, and added that the government is taking measures to mitigate malnutrition and improve immunity among children.
In Bengaluru, the training session for doctors has been arranged by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).
“Bengaluru alone has 25 lakh children and their good health is important to all of us. Doctors from government and private hospitals are attending the training session. As children aged below five years would require a parent’s presence next to them, we have decided to allow them in ICU or paediatrics wards. These doctors are also being trained how to ensure the parents can stay without getting infected,” Revenue Minister R Ashoka said. He added that such training programmes will be extended to other districts in the coming days.
BBMP Chief Commissioner Gaurav Gupta explained that the workshop will offer hands-on training to MBBS doctors on operating ventilators, NIV, CPAP, BIPAP devices, managing shock, providing CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation), and oxygen delivery among other specifics. “Eminent faculty including senior and experienced paediatricians, paediatric pulmonologists, and intensivists have been roped in to offer the training,” he said.
According to BBMP officials, 60 doctors in the city are attending the two-day session physically, while all the other MBBS doctors in the city are asked to attend the same online and get trained at their respective workplaces.
Meanwhile, Health and Medical Education Minister K Sudhakar recently announced that a dedicated paediatrics ward was being set up across all district and taluk-level hospitals in the state. “A dedicated 70-80 bed paediatrics ward will be arranged in all district hospitals. Additional paediatricians and nursing staff will also be recruited wherever it is necessary,” he said.
According to the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR), an estimated 36 to 40 per cent of the entire population in Karnataka is 18 or below. “With minimal chances of people aged below 18 getting inoculated before October, they will continue to be the most vulnerable,” KSPCPR Chairman Fr Anthony Sebastian said, reiterating the Commission’s demands to ensure health infrastructure in the state is upgraded accordingly.
To date, over 2.88 lakh people aged 19 and younger have been infected with Covid-19 across the state, of which 143 have succumbed to the infection. This amounts to nearly 11 per cent of the total tally and 0.5 per cent of the cumulative death toll, according to statistics issued by the Karnataka Covid-19 war room.
Experts are yet to conclusively ascertain whether the third wave would infect children more. “The conjecture comes from the fact that currently with vaccination covering all age groups above 18 years, the only vulnerable population would be children. Nonetheless, all those who haven’t been vaccinated or partially vaccinated would still be vulnerable,” Dr Vishal Rao, Dean, Centre of Academic Research, HCG Cancer Hospital, said.
However, Karnataka Health and Medical Education Minister K Sudhakar said, “Although it has been predicted that next wave might impact children predominantly, there is no such evidence from other countries which have already undergone the third wave.”
He also cited All India Institute Of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Director Dr Randeep Guleria’s statement that was no data to substantiate such claims. “Dr Guleria has noted that 60 to 70 percent of the children, who got infected and were admitted to hospitals during the second wave in India, had either co-morbidities or low immunity. Healthy children were found to have recovered with mild illness without the need to get hospitalised. However, we are ensuring preparedness to protect our children, Sudhakar said.