Punjab has no dedicated wards for children infected with virus
No dedicated wards or facilities are in place for children suffering from the coronavirus in Punjab amid a surge in cases of infection and the fact that experts have warned of a threat of attack on adolescents and younger population during the third wave of the pandemic.
Even as paediatricians and epidemiologists have sought exclusive wards for children, senior health department officials claim that they are managing the situation for now and arrangements for separate facilities will be made as and when required.
Experts say as the virus has mutated and chances of its further mutation cannot be ruled out, it can affect children in the coming days.
“Early preparedness is the need of the hour to prevent Covid-19 mortality in children and for that dedicated level-2 and level-3 facilities should be identified in government and private health care centres,” said a senior doctor.
Dr Harshinder Kaur, an associate professor at Government Medical College, Patiala, said, “We have four children in our Covid-19 ward. The virus is attacking children, including newborns. We would need for paediatric intensive care unit (ICU) and neo-natal ICU. But we are not well-equipped to handle such cases.”
“We should make arrangements in advance as schools and colleges will reopen. We have not learnt any lesson from the first wave of the pandemic. A neonate and an adult need different levels of oxygen but it is not possible in the same set-up,” she added.
Dr Pyare Lal Garg, former registrar, Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS), Faridkot, said the government should make adequate arrangements in advance to handle the situation. “There is a large young population in Punjab. It is the need of the hour to make arrangements for the second and third wave,” added Garg.
Sangrur civil surgeon Dr Anjana Gupta said children are being kept in home isolation when they are found positive. “If needed, we isolate them under the supervision of paediatricians,” she added.
Barnala civil surgeon Dr Harinderjit Singh Garg said there is no separate facility for children suffering from the virus in Barnala. “Children will be isolated in the same wards where other Covid patients are getting treatment.”
Director (health and family welfare, Punjab) Dr GB Singh said, “We will earmark beds for children if the need arises. But at present, they will be cured in the same isolation centres. We will see if the third wave attacks children,” he added.
In Sangrur district alone, 76 children in the 0-10 age group and 342 youngsters aged between 15 and 20 have been tested positive so far this year. Also, a 15-year-old hailing from Barnala district succumbed to the virus at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, last month, health department official said.