COVID positive children in South Africa have mild infection: Health official
- A high number of infants were admitted with COVID-19 last month
- Out of the 1,511 COVID-positive patients, 113 were under the age of 9
- A health official urged parents and pregnant women not to take flu-like symptoms lightly
A South African health official said that the high number of hospital admissions among children during the fourth wave of COVID-19 infections in South Africa prompted by the Omicron variant of COVID-19 should not give birth to panic. Reiterating her statement, she said that the infections have been mild.
A high number of infants were admitted with COVID-19 last month in Tshwane and this raised concerns that Omicron could prove to be a greater risk for young children than other variants.
However, scientists are yet to confirm any link between the two and the other factors that could be at play.
Ntsakisi Maluleke, a public health specialist in the Gauteng province that includes Tshwane and the biggest city Johannesburg, told Reuters that out of the 1,511 COVID-positive patients, 113 were under the age of 9.
"We are comforted by clinicians' reports that the children have mild disease," she said. She futher added that an investigation is in process to find out what was driving increased admissions in young adults.
Since only a small number of South Africa's positive COVID-19 tests are sent for genomic sequencing, officials are yet to identify the variant that caused the childrens' hospitalisation.
"They would rather have a child under care for a day or two than having a child at home and complicating, ... but we really need to wait for the evidence," she said.
She urged parents and pregnant women not to take flu-like symptoms lightly.
"The public needs to be less fearful but vigilant," she said.
What comes as a piece of good news is that a lot of patients that are hospitalised are not oxygen-dependent and were "incidental COVID admissions".
"This is a picture that has not been seen in previous waves. In the beginning of all three previous waves and throughout the course of these waves, there has always only been a sprinkling of patients on room air in the COVID ward," it said.