India: Revised COVID-19 guidelines do not recommend masks for kids below 5
- Indian health ministry has revised guidelines for COVID management in children and adolescents
- Masks aren't recommended for kids aged 5 or below
- The revisions come amid rising omicron concerns
The health ministry released the Revised Comprehensive Guidelines for Management of COVID-19 in Children and Adolescents (below 18 years) on Thursday, wherein the government indicated that masks are not recommended for children aged five and below.
Children between 6-11 should wear masks based on their ability to use them safely, and with appropriate direct supervision on part of the parents. The announcement further stated that children aged 12 and above should put the masks on, same as adults.
The new guidelines also say that using monoclonal antibodies or antivirals is not recommended for those below 18, irrespective of how severe the COVID-19 infection is. Even if steroids are used, they should be tapered over a period of 10 to 14 days, until there's clinical improvement.
These guidelines have been reviewed and altered by a group of experts, who met amid rising concerns due to omicron infections in India. Currently, experts believe that this variant is largely responsible for the fresh wave of infections the country is witnessing.
Omicron, which has been labelled as a variant of concern, requires careful monitoring as the current wave continues to evolve. However, data from other countries show that it is a less severe variant.
Accordingly, the ministry has outlined in its guidelines that COVID-19 being a viral infection should not require antimicrobials for its management. In mild cases or in asymptomatic individuals, antimicrobials aren't recommended for prophylaxis or therapy. Moreover, unless there is a fear of superadded infections, antimicrobials shouldn't be prescribed at all, as per the ministry's revision.
At the same time, it recommended that steroids should be used for those hospitalized with critical cases and that too under strict supervision.
As far as post-COVID care goes, those with mild infections, or showing no symptoms, should get routine care, vaccination as per the eligibility, psychological counselling and nutritional support.
Those who suffered moderate to severe infections should be monitored to see if conditions persist, and if there are signs of trouble including respiratory difficulties, the children should be taken to healthcare facilities. Finally, if any children develop organ-specific problems during their infection or after, should stay on to receive appropriate treatment.