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1 in 9 children infected by COVID-19: UNICEF

A medic collects a swab sample of for RT-PCR test of Coronavirus at Shri Dada Dev Child and Mother Care Government Hospital at Dwarka in New Delhi on November 19, 2020.   | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Children and adolescents account for 1 in 9 reported COVID-19 infections, according to an analysis by the UNICEF in a report released on Friday.

As of November 3, children and adolescents accounted for 11 per cent of the 25.7 million infections reported across 87 countries, the report stated.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a persistent myth that children are barely affected by the disease. Nothing could be further from the truth”, said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “While children can get sick and can spread the disease, this is just the tip of the pandemic iceberg. Disruptions to key services and soaring poverty rates pose the biggest threat to children. The longer the crisis persists, the deeper its impact on children’s education, health, nutrition and well-being. The future of an entire generation is at risk.”

As schools remain shut and health services continue to be disrupted, vulnerabilities of children and women have increased manifold, warned the UNICEF.

The report reiterated that vulnerabilities of women and children had increased, as health services continue to be disrupted and schools shut, denying children free mid-day meals offered at schools for underprivileged children by various nations.

Nutrition issue

It estimated that a third of the countries analysed witnessed a drop of at least 10% in coverage of health services and there was a 40% decline in the coverage of nutrition services for women and children across 135 countries.

While children could transmit the virus to each other and to older age groups, there was strong evidence that, with basic safety measures in place, the net benefits of keeping schools open outweighed the costs of closing them, the report noted. “Schools are not a main driver of community transmission, and children are more likely to get the virus outside of school settings”.

The report recommended bridging the digital divide to ensure all children were able to access school learning and guaranteed provision of nutrition and health services. It appealed to the governments around the world to adopt measures to curb rise in child poverty.

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2021 12:11:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/1-in-9-children-infected-by-covid-19-unicef/article33141124.ece

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