May 11, 2021 2:41:50 pm
The Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP) is actively considering opinion from its doctors and other experts on a likely third wave that may impact children before recommending whether or not schools can re-open. Along the lines of a state task force of experts for Covid in children, local level paediatric task force units will soon be set up. `We will be meeting Pune Mayor Murlidhar Mohol regarding a local level task force today,” Dr Sanjay Natu, Chairman of IAP, Pune branch told The Indian Express.
The Government’s Principal scientific advisor K Vijay Raghavan recently told a media briefing that a third wave of the pandemic was inevitable given the higher levels of the circulating virus. While state health minister Rajesh Tope said that they were already on their toes stepping up preparations for a likely third wave, several are anticipating that it may impact children. Over 1.30 lakh children below 18 have been infected with Covid in the state in the second wave post February this year as per official data. “Third wave may hit our children and that is really difficult for us to digest , especially since vaccines are not available for those under 18 years. While we have not made any formal recommendation, it is my personal opinion that schools should not be immediately reopened in June ,” Dr Mukund Penurkar, Secretary of Association of Physicians of India, Pune branch, said.
“Fortunately, very few children required hospitalization. However during the second wave many in the 20-45 age group were affected – and hence it is increasingly being estimated that less than 20 years of age may get affected in the third wave,” Dr Penurkar, who is a consulting physician and Managing Director of Sanjeevan Hospital, said.
Reopening of schools is a major decision and there are various factors that will have to be considered.
“What is the status of the pandemic at that point in time and whether the vaccine is likely to be available any time soon as Pfizer vaccine has been made available in Western countries for children. These are two important considerations which will decide whether schools can be reopened , Dr Natu said, adding it was too early to predict the same.
At IAP, Dr Natu said that a covid task force is being set up at district and city levels. There is a state-level covid task force set up in Mumbai and we will have a meeting with the Mayor and municipal corporation authorities on this issue.
“The central IAP cannot give guidelines as the pandemic is playing out differently in different areas of the country. In some states it is peaking while in others it has plateaued. So we cannot have a uniform guideline and will have to be region specific and hence many factors have to be considered before we can recommend whether schools can reopen ,” he said.
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