Covid-19 deaths among children are low as they have better immunity, but they can transmit the deadly virus to others
The number of Covid-19 positive children is increasing daily at Dhaka Shishu Hospital, with 60% of them exhibiting no symptoms.
They are mainly testing positive while going to the hospital for treatment of other diseases.
Experts say the number of Covid-19 deaths among children is low as they have better immunity, but they can transmit the deadly virus to others.
According to a Dhaka Shishu Hospital's report, a total of 589 children have so far caught Covid-19. Of them, 60% or 350 are asymptomatic.
The children are being identified with novel coronavirus while they are coming for non-Covid-19 treatment or surgery. But they show no symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, Kinkar Ghosh, epidemiologist of Dhaka Shishu Hospital told The Business Standard.
"Our hospital saw 25 Covid-19 cases on 21 November, the highest count in a single day. Of them, 18 were asymptomatic," he added.
Kinkar Ghosh said it is the season of cold diseases. Many paediatric patients coming to the hospital with pneumonia and other cold-related diseases cannot be separated before being tested for Covid-19, resulting in a delay in starting their non-Covid-19 treatment.
A new Covid-19 study has revealed that more than one-third or 36% of children who contract the novel coronavirus are asymptomatic.
For the study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the team looked at nearly 2,500 children who were tested between April and September.
All of them were at least five years old and were tested because of contact tracing whether they were symptomatic or not. Of the children,1,987 tested positive for Covid-19 and the remaining 476 had a negative result.
Among the children who contracted the virus, 714 of them, 35.9%, reported being asymptomatic.
While the classic Covid-19 symptoms – like cough, fever or shortness of breath – were not that common, children who tested positive mostly showed symptoms of cough and runny nose, which were also common among those with negative test results.
However, symptoms such as nausea or loss of taste and smell were up to seven times higher in children with the virus.
"The concern from a public health perspective is that there is probably a lot of Covid-19 circulating in the community that people do not even realise," said Dr Finlay McAlister, a professor of medicine at the University of Alberta.
"Of course, kids are at risk of contracting many different viruses, so the Covid-19-specific symptoms are actually more things like loss of taste and smell, headache, fever, nausea, and vomiting; not a runny nose, a cough and sore throat," McAlister said.
McAlister said if anyone feels ill, they should stay home and even those who fell well should practice measures such as social distancing, handwashing and wearing a mask.
Professor Nazrul Islam, noted virologist and former vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, said it is necessary to be careful about children testing positive for Covid-19. As children are asymptomatic in most cases, the virus can spread from them to others.
Professor Nazrul said, "Children are contracting the virus through other family members even when they do not go out of their houses. If a child catches Covid-19, we need to do contract tracing properly."
Among the Covid-19 positive children at Dhaka Shishu Hospital: 14% are from zero to 28 days old, 30% from one month to one year old, 28% from 1-5 years old, 19% from 5-10 years old, and 9% from over 10 years old.
According to the health directorate, 3% of children in the country have tested positive for Covid-19. Among the deaths, 32 were between zero and 10 years old while 54 were between 11 and 20 years.
Kinkar Ghosh said children with pneumonia, cold, fever, and other related diseases increase in winter; this year, the novel coronavirus has joined them. So, guardians need to be more careful about their children. To keep the children safe, family members should follow hygiene rules, including mask-wearing, when they go out.