States need to boost Covid care facilities for children: Expert panel | India News

NEW DELHI: A committee of experts constituted under the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) has warned of an imminent third wave of Covid that could peak around October and sought better medical preparedness for children who might be at similar risk as adults.
The report of the committee, set up on the directions of the home ministry, has noted that “paediatric facilities – doctors, staff, equipment like ventilators, ambulances, etc. are nowhere close to what may be required in case a large number of children become infected”. The report has been submitted to the PMO.
The report has called for prioritising vaccination among children with co-morbidities and a special focus on those with disability. Even with “strict interventions”, the peak of the third wave is expected to arrive by late October, the experts have concurred with earlier assessments of different institutions. Several studies have spoken of the likelihood of a third wave but these are estimates.
The vulnerability of kids as they haven’t been vaccinated has been discussed, with most experts of the view they are not prone to severe infections though it can pass the virus to others. Other estimates have said the third wave, seen to be the result of renewed mobility, may prove to be less severe than the second.
The study: “Third Wave Preparedness: Children Vulnerability and Recovery,” has looked into the possibility of Covid-affecting children and the required strategies to deal with the pandemic.
The recommendations made by the committee has suggested “a holistic home care model, immediate increase in paediatric medical capacities and prioritising mental health issues among children”. It has mooted structuring of Covid wards in a way that allows children’s attendants or parents to safely stay with them through their recovery.
Experts have expressed concern about 82% shortage of paediatricians in primary health centres and 63% vacancies in community health centres (the data cited from a parliamentary standing committee). “The situation is already dire, and might worsen due to lack of adherence to Covid Appropriate Behaviour (CAB), insufficient medical facilities and lagging vaccination,” the report said.
It pointed out how during the second wave, about 60%-70% children hospitalised due to Covid had comorbidities and their low immunity was the primary cause behind many developing MIS-C (Multi-system Inflammatory Syndrome), a “rare but serious condition” developed post-Covid recovery.
The report said the third wave is already upon us if we look at the rising R value, the reproduction rate of Covid-19 that has increased from 0.9 to 1 over the last week of July.

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