Johannesburg: Concerns have been expressed by South African experts about soaring COVID-19 infections among children, as the country registered 16,055 infections and 25 fatalities on Friday.
“We have always seen children not being heavily affected by the Covid epidemic in the past (and) not having many admissions (to hospitals). In the third wave, we saw more admissions in children under five and in teenagers who were 15 to 19.
“Now, at the start of this fourth wave, we see quite a sharp increase across all age groups, but particularly in the under-fives,” Dr Waasila Jassat of the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) was quoted as saying by news agency PTI at a media briefing by the Health Ministry on Friday.
“As expected, the incidence is still lowest in children. However, the incidence in those under five is now second-highest and second only to the incidence in those over 60.
“The trend that we are seeing now that is different from what we saw before is the particular increase in hospital admissions in children under five years,” Jassat added.
According to NICD’s Dr Michelle Groome, more research would be needed to investigate the reasons behind this phenomenon.
“It is still very early on in the wave. At this stage, it has just started in the younger age groups and we will know more (by) monitoring this age group in the coming weeks. We do just need to highlight the importance of surge preparedness to also include paediatric beds and staff,” Groome said.