Covid-19: MHA panel warns of third wave peak in Oct, lack of infra to treat kids
A committee set up by the Union Home Ministry has said a third wave of the coronavirus (Covid-19) disease may reach its peak around October and children could be affected as severely as adults.
In its report that has been submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the committee has spoken about the critical need of paediatric facilities, including doctors, staff, and equipment like ventilators and ambulances, if a large number of children got infected by the virus. It further said the available infrastructure was “no nowhere close” to the requirement, if the need arose.
According to a report in The Times of India, the committee of experts was set up under the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) of the MHA. The experts have also written about prioritising a vaccination drive against the virus for children with co-morbidities and those with special needs.
While the country’s drug regulators have approved Zydus Cadila’s ZyCoV-D vaccine for children above 12 years of age, the drive is yet to begin. Earlier, Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya had hinted that children may start receiving their doses against the virus from September.
The experts’ study titled ‘Third Wave Preparedness: Children Vulnerability and Recovery’ found, like several other previous related works, while children may not be severely infected by the virus, they may pass it on to others.
Among their recommendations, the experts have said “a holistic home care model, immediate increase in paediatric medical capacities and prioritising mental health issues among children” were key at the moment. They have also proposed a model wherein Covid wards could be structured in a way that guardians of infected children could safely stay with them during the treatment.
Stating that children are "not a homogeneous group and the policies cannot be the same for different groups of children, the panel also wrote about protection programmes for children from rural areas and disadvantaged communities, besides coming up with awareness campaigns to make them more familiar with protocols a report in NDTV said.
While schools have started reopening in several states across the country, the report has suggested micro-management at the district level as proposed by the World Health Organisation to ensure safety at educational institutes.
Recently, Union information and broadcasting minister Anurag Thakur said the central government was fully prepared to deal with a possible third wave and special emphasis is being laid on strengthening paediatric care.
A second wave of the virus earlier this year had wreaked havoc in the country with a large number of deaths being reported due to alleged crisis of oxygen supply, besides lack of critical infrastructure, including ICU beds. Government thinktank NITI Aayog has, meanwhile, suggested that preparations be made for 23 hospitalisations for every 100 positive cases in a future pandemic surge.