Hospitals in Pune city ramp up preparation, stock-up on medicines in anticipation of Covid’s paediatric 3rd wave
Pune has already begun preparations for the much-anticipated Covid-19 third wave, where children are likely to be the worst affected due.
Experts have said that the third wave would affect children the most, as they have not been vaccinated. In addition, children are also vulnerable to Post-Covid Inflammatory Syndrome also known as Paediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome (PIMS), post recovery.
City hospitals, including those under the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), have begun preparations focused on the paediatric Covid-19 testing and treatment.
Dr Aarti Kinikar, senior paediatrician and head of department of the paediatric ward at Sassoon General Hospital said, “We have started preparing for the third wave, where it is anticipated that children would be the most affected. We have identified wards which could be taken over in if the numbers rise, including ICU beds. We have also hired consultants to recruit manpower and stocked medicines and surgicals as required. We hope that the wave doesn’t come.”
“Right now we have about 35-40 beds, including ICU beds, scattered across the hospital for paediatrics and OBGYN which would go up to 100 as per our plans. We have identified one floor which is right now being used for paediatric-plus- healthcare workers, but then, if need be, we will dedicate it for paediatrics without compromising on the adult Covid-19 facilities. We are hoping that the adult cases reduce,” Dr Kinikar added.
Dr Kinikar also said that Sassoon has a dedicated medical gas pipeline system project which would ensure smooth oxygen supply in case of the third wave.
“We are also seeing a rise in the PIMS cases which have started coming in from the past one month. This may suddenly increase in the third wave, like we are seeing in European countries and in America too. If the pattern is the same then we may require separate medicines in addition to the ones we require to treat adult Covid-19 patients.”
In April alone, the district saw the highest number of deaths due to Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, which included six fatalities among those aged below 20 years, of the total 2,938 deaths.
The PMC is also working on a dedicated Covid hospital for children at the Rajiv Gandhi Hospital facility. Sunil Tingre, MLA from Yerawada, who has funded the project through his MLA funds, said, “Considering the third wave many doctors predicting that it could affect young children as well, a Covid hospital for children is being set up at Bharat Ratna Rajiv Gandhi Hospital in Yerawada. It will be the first children’s hospital in the state. The hospital will have a total capacity of 200 beds. There will be 150 oxygen beds and 50 ICU beds. Rs1 crore has been provided from my MLA fund and also a large amount of funds has been made available under CSR. On Friday, May 7, I inspected the hospital along with additional commissioner Rubal Agarwal. Instructions have been given to complete the work as soon as possible with necessary facilities.”
Dr Jitendra Oswal, paediatrician and deputy medical director at Bharati Vidyapeeth hospital, said, “We are ready with a dedicated paediatric Covid unit which would be manned by a paediatrician, and also a Covid-positive mother delivery facility. We have also started newborn-to 18-year old RT PCR and antigen testing facilities. In addition we have a dedicated six-bed Covid PICU and NICU, with a facility of mechanical ventilation.”
“We anticipate that the third wave would also see a shocking number of children suffering from post- Covid inflammation, a rare but serious condition which typically surfaces after four-six weeks of the Covid peak. The Pune peak was April 8, with above 7,000 cases and around seven-eight per cent of positive cases were children. Many of these children may have antibody positivity. More children may die of inflammatory syndrome and less from active Covid infection,” Dr Oswal added.
Dr Oswal also said that of the 4.893 million Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra, 10 per cent have been reported in those aged less than 20 years and so ,4,89,300 children have tested positive for Covid.
He said, “Even if we consider 0.1% will have inflammatory syndrome then we will have 489 children in Maharashtra alone, and if not recognized early then they are likely to die. Many paediatricians may not be aware of the diagnosis and treatment of this condition and so we need expert manpower and also special drugs like IV immunoglobulin, plus Methylprednisolone in most, and Tocilizumab in a few cases which have to be stocked.”
Dr Pradeep Suryavanshi, a paediatrician in the city, said, “At Sahyadri hospital we have had about 11 newborns who tested positive in the second wave and we also had two rare and interesting cases of newborn Covid cases, One case with convulsions and one case with heart failure.Both responded to steroids. We have put forward our study for publication in international journals. We have also had 67 Covid-19 positive kids suffer from PIMS and the common symptoms included fever, rash, breathing problems, hypotension and loose motions. Unfortunately, we had one death in these 67 cases.”
Dos and don’ts to protect children from Covid-19
1. Don’t go outside - garden/ play area
2. Less screen time
3. Involve kids in logical thinking/indoor games
4. Any fever – take Antigen/RTPCR test
5. Immediate separation from family
6. Healthy members of the family should take care of Covid positive children
7. High protein diet
8. Wear a mask