1,311 children in Mumbai tested positive for Covid since March: Civic corporationUpdated: Jul 03, 2020 00:49 IST
Although minors constitute less than 1% of the total number of Covid-19 cases, more than 6,000 children in Maharashtra and 1,311 in the city have contracted the infection since March. Data provided by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) shows 54% of these cases were among boys and 46% were in girls aged between 0 to 10 years. So far, seven minors have died of the infection.
Doctors said children with low immunity and comorbidity may be particularly vulnerable to the infection. Detecting the infection in a Covid-positive minor is more challenging than in adults as 85% of the reported cases were asymptomatic. “Only 10% children show symptoms like cough and fever. Some even develop diarrhoea. But we still don’t know the exact symptoms among children,” said Dr Bhupendra Avasthi, trustee, Surya Maternity Hospital.
There is also speculation that infants may be vulnerable with 10 newborns contracting Covid-19 either from their Covid-positive mothers or by cross-transmission in hospital. A report on Covid-19 in minors was submitted by the state health department to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in mid-May.
“Cases of Covid-19 among children don’t even constitute 1% of the total. They do relatively better than adults because of their innate immunity and healthier lungs. As they mostly don’t have additional risk factors like obesity, diabetes and hypertension, their recovery rate is higher,” said Dr Pradeep Awate, state surveillance officer.
At present, there are seven beds in paediatric intensive care units (PICU) for Covid-positive minors in Mumbai, of which six are occupied and there are 30 neonatal intensive care units (NICUs), of which 29 have newborn babies who are critically-ill with Covid-19.
“Almost 70% minors are from outside Mumbai due to unavailability of Covid NICU and PICU in their districts. This often means a delay in their treatment, which deteriorates their health condition especially among children with weaker immunity and compromised lungs,” said paediatrician Dr Mukesh Aggarwal, from King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital.
With few reported cases, there are questions surrounding Covid-19 in children. Approximately 5% of minor patients have needed treatment in intensive care units (ICU). “There is no treatment as children aren’t showing symptoms like other [adults],” said Dr Avasthi.
Recently, some Covid-positive children in the city exhibited symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease, which causes inflammation in the walls of some blood vessels and can cause cause permanent damage to coronary arteries. Kawasaki disease usually occurs among children below five years and early symptoms include rash and fever. However, Dr Avasthi said, “Kawasaki-like child patients are present, but no confirmed case has been identified till now.”