Mumbai: Post-Covid complications on rise among kids, say doctors
The number of Covid-19 cases among children in the city has declined as compared to April when the pandemic curve was at a peak. However, the hospitals are now witnessing a surge in post-Covid complications among the recovered paediatric patients.
In April, 4,351 children between the age group of 0-9 years contracted Covid-19. The number plunged to 3,139 in May as the overall cases of novel coronavirus reported a decline. Similarly, in April, 12,277 teenagers in the age group of 10-19 years were diagnosed with the infection which decreased to 3,139 the next month. This is as per the data availed from Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
Till May 31, 43,561 patients between the age of 0-19 have contracted the infection since the outbreak of the virus last year. The infection rate among children had doubled up post-February when the second wave started. However, there is a silver lining, as both - civic and private hospitals - are witnessing a dip in paediatric cases, which had become the biggest concern of the doctors in the second wave.
Dr Bela Verma, head of the paediatric department at the government-run Sir JJ Hospital said that in April, they received 33 paediatric cases. However, last month, they got only eight cases. Similarly, the civic-run King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital, Parel has witnessed around a 40% drop in paediatric patients with Covid-19 infection. At present, they have only seven paediatric patients. Doctors at Surya Hospital claim that they have recorded 30-40% fall in the hospitalisation of paediatric patients.
Dr Verma said, “In April, the rising cases of Covid-19 among children had become quite a concern for us. But now, hardly, we are getting any cases. Also, among the current cases, the severity of infection isn’t as acute as witnessed in April.”
Doctors believe lockdown has played an essential role in controlling the spread of infection among children. Also, they have raised the demand for early vaccination among them.
“I hope Covid vaccine trials in children, which are already in progress, succeed and children get the vaccine at the earliest. Allowing all paediatricians to give the vaccine will help in strengthening the immunity among children and curbing the infection rate,” Dr Sanjeev Ahuja, consultant paediatric at LH Hiranandani Hospital, Powai which is the first private hospital to install its own oxygen generating plant in Mumbai.
Rise in post-Covid syndromes
Though the infection rate among children has decreased, hospitals across the city are reporting a surge in cases of a post-Covid syndrome like Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS), Bell’s palsy—temporary paralysis of facial muscles, long fever, and breathlessness.
Dr Ahuja said that he is receiving paediatric patients with MIS and Kawasaki like disease after four-six weeks of recovery. “This occurs after four-six weeks of recovery when the RT-PCR report comes negative and the body has anti-Covid antibodies. Such cases have increased recently. Prompt diagnosis and treatment with immunoglobulin, steroids and cardiac evaluation are the ways to treat the patients,” he said.
The MIS has raised quite a concern among doctors. Doctors have observed that the maximum number of kids who are facing post-Covid syndromes are in the age group of 5-14. Many of them have cardiac-related issues. Asymptomatic and mildly infected patients are having post-Covid symptoms.
“MIS is not dangerous or life-threatening but it affects some children badly. It is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs,” said Dr Bakul Parekh, past president of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP) and part of the paediatric Covid task force.
Symptoms of MIS are fever for three to five days, severe abdominal pain, sudden drop in blood pressure and loose motions. “We have seen it in the first wave so, all the paediatric doctors have gained experience in handling such patients. Parents need to keep a watch on the recovered children if they keep having fever for more than three days. Earlier detection helps in better recovery of the children,” said Dr Neil Castellino, chief of PICU, Surya Hospital.
The paediatric Covid task force has also taken note of the rising cases of post-Covid syndromes among children. “Twice in a week, we are holding meetings with the officials from the state government. We have submitted a module in handling infection rate among children and post-Covid complications among children,” said Dr Parekh.
Dr Parekh cautioned against giving medicines over the counter without consulting doctors if the children are having red eyes, vomiting, having a convulsion, stomach ache, confusions, disorientations. “Such patients should be rushed to a nearby hospital immediately,” he added.
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