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Pune: City-level paediatric Covid task force to be set up

According to Dr Umesh Vaidya, in-charge of the neonatal intensive care unit of KEM hospital, "Parents are living under a tremendous shadow of fear which is not healthy. We are not telling them to be careless but there is no reason to be disproportionately scared."

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
May 11, 2021 10:07:22 pm
The government told the court that in a video conference by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on June 7, members of the Pediatric Task Force suggested measures and guidelines about treatment to be administered to the children during the possible third wave. (File Photo)

Several paediatricians have observed a sense of panic among parents over a speculated rise in paediatric cases with Covid-19. They have strongly urged that there is no need for panic and have assured that the criticality of cases in this group is very low.

At a meeting with municipal corporation authorities on Tuesday to set up a local level paediatric Covid task force, experts reiterated that while most countries are facing other waves of the pandemic, the severity of cases was extremely low in this group.

Dr Sanjay Natu, chairman of Indian Academy of Paediatrics, Pune chapter, told The Indian Express that the meeting was held with a view to prepare in the eventuality of more Covid cases in the paediatric age group.

“This is a preparedness-level meeting. If there is a spike in cases, we do not want to be caught unawares. But due to speculation, there is a growing sense of panic in parents,” Natu said.

According to Dr Umesh Vaidya, in-charge of the neonatal intensive care unit of KEM hospital, “Parents are living under a tremendous shadow of fear which is not healthy. We are not telling them to be careless but there is no reason to be disproportionately scared.”

Globally, the mortality in this group is less than 0.1 per cent. In Maharashtra, of the 51.11 lakh cases of Covid infections till date, a total of 1.56 lakh were in children up to 10 years of age while 3.56 lakh were in the 11-20 years age group, according to official data.

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Vaidya also citied several instances of newborns who were Covid positive but did not have severe disease. “Most of the children are asymptomatic. They should be allowed to go outdoors in open spaces (while not in groups). Paediatric vaccination will take another year and while Covid appropriate behaviour should be followed, they can play outdoors,” Vaidya said.

Dr Sanjeev Wavare, assistant health chief of Pune Municipal Corporation, said a city-level paediatric Covid task force will be set up to assess the situation. PMC health officials, along with paediatricians and other experts, also decided that they will identify some hospitals with dedicated paediatric intensive care units in the eventuality that some children develop post-Covid inflammatory syndrome one month or six weeks after recovery.

“We have to be ready that there could be some children who could be critical,” Vaidya said. At the meeting was also discussed the need to sett up a dashboard to show availability of different kind of beds – in the neonatal and paediatric intensive care units at various hospitals like Rajiv Gandhi hospital, Deenanath Mangeshkar, KEM hospital, Bharati hospital and Sassoon general hospital.

Experts were also worried about the psychological impact of being at home and away from school for over a year now. In the second wave of the pandemic, at least 8 to 9 per cent of all cases were among children and most cases were mild with treatment consisting of supportive care.

“Fortunately, very few children required hospitalisation,” said Dr Mukund Penurkar, secretary of Association of Physicians of India, Pune branch.

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