Bracing for COVID spike in children

The Telangana government is bracing for the high number of paediatric COVID-19 cases if there were to be a surge of cases in this age group. Senior Health officials said that their plan was to increase the paediatric bed capacity to 5,000 including around 2,000 ICU beds.

A few reasons have put officials on alert. One is the uncertain behaviour of coronavirus and second, the high number of coronavirus cases among children in neighbouring States. The possibility of a third wave impacting children too, is another reason.

Before the second wave had hit the State, the government maintained that they were prepared to handle the worst scenario.

However, in the peak of the pandemic, people struggled to find beds in major government and private hospitals. Many posted SOS requests on social media seeking help in finding beds for their near and dear ones, which indicated that some more planning was needed.

Advanced preparations anticipating another crisis helps to bring down possible distress, believe officials.

Around 1,500 cases in the paediatric age group were attended at Gandhi Hospital and Niloufer Hospital in the first wave, and around 800 were treated at the two hospitals in the second wave, said senior officials from the Health department, who added that severity of COVID in children has been less compared to adults.

There are around 1,200 beds at Niloufer Hospital. Director of Medical Education Dr. K. Ramesh Reddy, who visited the hospital on Tuesday, said that they were planning to increase the bed capacity there to 1,800-2,000. Auditoriums, classrooms used to hold examinations and other spaces would be put to use to add more beds. Besides, a temporary structure was being planned for the purpose.

He said that Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar has been preparing for this for the last three weeks. Suggestions and views were sought from senior paediatricians and experts.

“The focus is not only on Hyderabad. Dedicated paediatric set ups in other teaching hospitals, Area Hospitals and other centres in districts will also be enhanced. There will be some ICU beds in Area Hospitals,” Dr. Reddy said. Along with additional beds, proportionate number of staff would be required to avoid burdening the existing Health Care Workers (HCWs).

HCWs would be provided a refresher course on treating COVID complications in children.An online training module would be rolled out soon.

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Printable version | Oct 17, 2021 4:19:20 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/bracing-for-covid-spike-in-children/article34711518.ece

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