US official says the number of children sick with COVID-19 is not a cause for panic

Because Alexander won

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – A higher rate of hospitalization among children in South Africa’s fourth wave of COVID-19 infections caused by the Omicron variant calls for vigilance but not panic as the infection is mild. a health official said Saturday.

A large number of infants were hospitalized for COVID-19 last month in Tshwane, a metropolitan area that includes the capital Pretoria, raising concerns that the Omicron variant may pose a greater risk to young children than it does. other coronavirus variants.

Scientists have yet to confirm any link and have warned that other factors may be at play.

Ntsakisi Maluleke, a public health expert in Gauteng province, which includes Tshwane and Johannesburg’s largest city, said that of the 1,511 COVID-positive patients in provincial hospitals, 113 are under the age of 9, one a greater rate than in previous episodes of infection.

“We are comforted by reports from clinicians that the children have mild illness, and added that health officials and scientists are investigating,” she told Reuters in an interview. what has driven the increase in hospitalizations among younger ages and hopefully will provide more clarity over the next two years. weekly.

As only a small percentage of South Africa’s positive COVID-19 tests were submitted for genome sequencing, officials still don’t know what variants the hospitalized children were infected with.

Maluleke said medical staff may be acting recklessly. “They would rather have a child in care for a day or two than leave the child at home and complicate things… but we really need to wait for the proof,” she said.

She said many COVID-19 patients in Gauteng reported “non-specific” flu-like symptoms such as an itchy throat, as opposed to more recognizable signs such as loss of taste or smell.

But she recommends that parents and pregnant women, another cohort with many recent hospitalizations, not take flu-like symptoms lightly and get tested in case further intervention at the frontline is needed. below.

“The public needs to be less fearful but alert,” she added.

Maluleke said that despite a recent influx of visitors, Gauteng’s occupancy of dedicated COVID-19 beds is still only about 13%, adding that contingency plans have been put in place if the public capacity increased.

Scientists are still working to find out the severity of the disease caused by the Omicron variant, first detected in southern Africa last month and since seen in more than 30 countries, and whether it could be more resistant to existing vaccines .

(Reporting by Alexander won; Editing by Frances Kerry) US official says the number of children sick with COVID-19 is not a cause for panic


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