For first time in about a month, 20% of Odisha’s Covid cases are below 18 years
The Covid-19 infection among children and adolescents below the age of 18 years in Odisha reached 20 per cent on Monday but the health department said it may not be a matter of panic.
Of the 609 who tested positive for Covid-19 in Odisha in the last 24 hours, 122 were below 18 years of age. On Sunday, this age group accounted for 16.27 per cent of total cases of infections in the state while the figure stood at 17.32 per cent on Saturday.
However, the daily positivity ratio stood at 0.93 per cent.
Director of health services, Dr Bijoy Mohapatra, said there should not be any panic as the number of children who need hospitalisation is less than 1 per cent. “About 0.8 per cent of the infected children are in general beds of Covid hospital while 0.3 per cent are in ICU. No one is on ventilator yet,” said Dr Mohapatra.
He said one also needs to analyse the infection rate among children below 18 years before pressing the panic button. “We are doing more testing for children below 18 years and have started a vigorous contact tracing of the children who came in contact with the infected ones. We are in the process of curating the total number of samples tested for those below 18 years and those who tested positive. Once we calculate the infection rate, that would give us a better idea of the spread of infection,” he said.
Health officials, however, said there should not be any room for complacency regarding children as they have not been inoculated.
Mohapatra said the ongoing serological surveillance on Covid-19 in Odisha will focus on those below 18 years as the rate of infection among children and adolescents.
Though all previous serological surveys in Odisha were done among adults, the high rate of infection among those below 18 years was the reason for the current survey that is being carried out in 12 districts by the ICMR’s Regional Medical Research Centre in Bhubaneswar.
ICMR officials said the seropositivity rate would generate evidence on the exposure of children and adolescents to the virus and help the government decide on the opening of schools. So far, schools in Odisha have been opened for students of Class 9, 10, 11 and 12 since July, but it is not compulsory for students to attend.