Latest data by Surat civic authorities reveals that more children below the age of 10 years have been infected by the second wave of COVID-19 compared to the first. More than 560 children, all up to 10 years, tested positive for the coronavirus in the first wave. The cases increased three-fold with around 1,700 children being affected during the second wave. So far, no fatality has been reported in the age group.
This data comes a week after the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal raised alarms that the third wave was much likely to impact children as they have not been vaccinated. However, AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria, said the fears were not based on facts.
The data shared by Surat Municipal Corporation’s (SMC) health department, between April and December 2020, shows a total of 564 cases among minors up to 10 years were reported in Surat City. The lowest, up to 15 cases were recorded in May 2020, while the highest number of 138 cases were recorded in October. As many as 128 cases were recorded among children in the month of August.
BN Pani, SMC Commissioner, told The Indian Express that this year, the COVID-19 cases among minors are high compared to last year. “These minors (up to 10 years), who were infected were asymptomatic and have recovered. Several of these children were detected during out test drives conducted through Dhanvantri Raths and other testing centres, and also by private paediatricians and family doctors.”
Between January 2021 and May 20, in the second wave of the pandemic, 1,696 cases were recorded among the same age group in Surat city. The maximum number of 1,185 cases were recorded in April alone, followed by 274 cases in March. Only five cases were recorded in February.
Dr Ashish Naik, SMC Deputy Health Commissioner, pointed out that in both the waves, there was no fatality among the minors. “In both the first and second phases, the highest number of cases was recorded from the corporation’s South-West zone (Athwalines) where in 2020, a total of 118 cases were recorded, while in the past five months of the second wave, 500 cases were recorded from this part of the city. Athwalines are is among the posh areas in the city with all the necessary infrastructure and health facilities.”
Pani said the SMC has already started preparing for the third wave and has conducted meetings with doctors from the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and paediatricians in the city. “We have planned to create separate wards at the New Civil Hospital (NCH) and SMIMER Hospitals which will be well-equipped,” he said. “We have procured around 100 oxygen concentrators.”
The SMC Commissioner revealed that they are planning to introduce a chapter on COVID-19 in school syllabi. “We have prepared a chapter in which students will be given information on COVID-19, the difference between virus and bacteria, RNA and DNA viruses, communicable and non-communicable diseases, how the infection happens, ways to prevent it and how long it will remain in the body, why the mask is important during COVID and non-COVID period, on the importance of vaccination among other things.”
Pani explained that they want to develop the COVID-appropriate behavior among the younger generation. “The contents of this chapter have been prepared by the SMC health department officials and in the coming days we will distribute them among private and municipal schools in the city as well.”