Permanent Secretary for Health, Dr. James Fong says they have not recorded any admissions in the paediatric age group to date for COVID-19 however, if community transmission is not suppressed, the number of paediatric COVID-19 cases could rise and they are recommending that families mask up, avoid crowded spaces and get all eligible kids vaccinated fully.
He says in Fiji, the total number of positive cases recorded in this 3rd wave is 6,520.
Dr. Fong says whilst this is an underestimate of the actual number of cases, from this sample, 337 or 5% are in the paediatric age group (under the age of 15) and this finding is consistent with the experience expressed by their medical staff.
He says they have 57 COVID-19 positive paediatric admissions so far, and in all the cases, the COVID positive test was incidental to the reason for admission.
He says this means these children were admitted for other medical conditions and just happened to test positive for COVID-19, as all admissions to the hospital are tested.
Meanwhile, Dr. Fong says he wants to clarify his earlier comments on the minimal risk to children in response to feedback received by the Ministry on the reopening of schools.
Dr. Fong says in the first instance, a number of higher-quality studies have found minimal to no impact of school closures and reopening on community transmission of the disease.
He says within households, children and young people transmit SARS-CoV-2 infection at similar levels to adults however, the studies also show that secondary attack rates from children are lower in school settings than in households, particularly when mitigations are in place.
Dr. Dong says furthermore, the international experience is that while children do get hospitalized with COVID-19, many of these children are not in the hospital for COVID-19 but instead incidentally tested positive when admitted for other health issues.
He says severe illness in children remains rare, and even hospitalized children tend to recover well and this has recently been highlighted in a statement by the United Kingdom’s Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.
Dr. Fong says the United Kingdom’s Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health have said it is important to note that paediatricians are not reporting Omicron to be a more serious or severe disease in children and young people in the UK and they are also reassured to hear those very few children and young people admitted to hospital with Omicron are needing paediatric intensive care.
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