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Omicron infects kids with mild symptoms, say doctors

08:03 AM Jan 17, 2022 IST | Nazir Ganaie
omicron infects kids with mild symptoms  say doctors

Srinagar: Amid rising cases of Omicron across Jammu Kashmir, parents are worried about the impact of the new and highly infectious variant of COVID-19 among children.


“We are concerned because we see a lot of guidelines issued every day. My son has tested COVID positive and we got him admitted here,” Shabir Ahmad, a parent, attending his son at SKIMS Medical College, Srinagar, said.


“We were earlier told not to admit him here, but his symptoms showed that the situation could have been worse so we continued his admission here,” he said. “The government must come clear about their (children) vaccination policy.”

While the doctors said that considering kids below 15 are not yet eligible for vaccination, the fear of them being at risk of the new variants is growing with each passing day. “We are witnessing new trends in every new variant. The concern of parents in such a situation is quite genuine,” Consultant Paediatrician, Dr Yasir Wani, told Greater Kashmir.


“Nowadays, we are seeing many people testing COVID positive with a history of fever, sore throat and cough. The number of cases is increasing both in adults and children but the majority of these have mild symptoms,” he said.


He said hospitalisation in children is more because Omicron tends to multiply in the airways and not in the lungs. “Since the size of airways in children is small, therefore, they tend to have more symptoms than adults,” Dr Wani said.


“Children are not vaccinated hence they are more vulnerable and tend to have more symptoms. Children were less exposed to COVID during previous waves since they have been mostly staying home and now since almost the whole adult population is vaccinated and infected hence that makes children most vulnerable to infection and getting more symptoms.”


He batted for launching a vaccination drive for the children on an immediate basis.

“In my opinion, children need vaccination so that we can expect schools to be opened in the March- April session. Covaxin is an absolutely safe and effective vaccine in both children and adults,” he opined.

Another senior paediatrician, Government Medical College, Srinagar, Dr Suhail Naik, told Greater Kashmir, that the indications are that children admitted to hospital with Omicron are even less sick, as they require less support than children admitted earlier in the pandemic and are discharged earlier.

He said that hospital admissions of children under 1-year-old have risen steeply, coinciding with the transmission of the Omicron variant. “What we have observed is that the virus is spreading like wildfire, but patients across age groups develop mild symptoms and or no symptoms.

Rate of hospitalisation and subsequently mortality is statistically very low,” he said, adding “Fortunately people don’t develop lung complications and fall in oxygen level though illness gripes a person or family for a weak.”

He said that the third wave due to rapid steep rise in the graph will have an immediate steep fall in the coming few weeks but people have to cooperate with the administration and follow all prescribed guidelines religiously. He urged people to follow CAB guidelines and avoid visiting overcrowded places. “People should avoid unnecessary travel and try to have balanced food and for children, breast milk and regular exercises are vital,” he said. Pertinently, the data, from the COVID-19 Clinical Information Network (CO-CIN) study, show that the proportion of children under 1 year who were admitted to hospital with COVID-19 was 42.2 per cent in the four-week period, much higher than earlier in the pandemic.

The alpha and delta variants were also associated with increased cases in children, raising concerns that children would be more vulnerable to these variants and would become sicker. “We witnessed the other way around and this whole assumption turned out not to be the case,” Dr Naik said. “And the indications are seen that children admitted to hospital with Omicron are even less sick, as they require less support than children admitted earlier in the pandemic and are discharged earlier.”