Covid-19: NIV expert calls for vaccinating at-risk kids below 12 years as states lift curbs

Updated on Apr 01, 2022 09:48 PM IST

Maharashtra and Telangana have removed the mask mandate from their states in view of declining Covid-19 cases. The DDMA, meanwhile, has announced to no longer impose fines on citizens for not wearing a mask in the Capital.

NIV director Priya Abraham said that children do pick up Covid-19 infection but most often they are asymtomatic. (PTI)
NIV director Priya Abraham said that children do pick up Covid-19 infection but most often they are asymtomatic. (PTI)
Written by Sharangee Dutta | Edited by Aniruddha Dhar, New Delhi

As several states, including Maharashtra, have decided to lift Covid-19 restrictions and even do away with fines for not wearing face masks in public, a medical expert has pushed for vaccinating at-risk children who are below 12 years. Director of the National Institute of Virology (NIV) Priya Abraham said children primarily contract mild Covid-19 infection, but those who are at high risk and have comorbidities can experience complications. She, however, stressed that the proportion of such children is very less

“In my opinion, children below the age of 12 years who are at high risk -- as in those who are on dialysis, have immunosuppression and also are suffering from cancer, among others -- need to be vaccinated,” news agency PTI quoted Abraham as saying.

Also Read | As states ease Covid curbs, experts feel it is too early to do away with masks

Asked about many states making wearing of masks optional and doing away with fines for not using them, Abraham said it is not time to “completely throw our precautions away”.

She explained that one must wear a mask in “any crowded place” where people are sitting fairly close to each other or in a “poorly ventilated place”.

Also Read | Keep masks on even if it’s optional, say Covid task force members

“A mask definitely has a role in curtailing transmission [of the virus],” she added.

Abraham added that if children go to school without masks, there remains a risk for them to spread the infection to “an unvaccinated family member of a sick elderly person with comorbidities”.

“Children do pick up the infection but most often they are asymptomatic,” she added.

Her statements come after the Maharashtra government on Thursday lifted all Covid-related curbs, and made mask usage optional. Also, vaccination to avail of public transport services or to visit restaurants and other public places are also no longer mandatory. The decision was taken following a state cabinet meeting on Thursday, and the new rules have come into effect starting today.

The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), meanwhile, announced that it will no longer impose fines on citizens for not wearing masks in public places. “However, this does not mean that the Delhi government endorses people not wearing masks. Intensive campaigns will be conducted to promote the wearing of masks,” a senior government official, who attended Thursday's DDMA meeting, said.

The Telangana government has also done away with the mask mandate barring the elderly, pregnant women and those with comorbidities, for whom Covid-appropriate behaviour still exists.

West Bengal, meanwhile, has lifted all Covid-relation restrictions from the state.

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