1,452 children under five infected with COVID-19

284 cases are active

Although the majority of the population, in the five years and above category, is vaccinated in the country, however, there remain more than 60,000 children below five years, most at risk of getting the infection. 

According to the Ministry of Health’s data sent to the paper last week in response to some questions, currently there are 284 children below age five who are COVID-19 positive.

This should have increased by this week.  As of today a total of 1,452 children have been infected so far including the active cases in Bhutan.

Choden, who has a three-year-old child, said that since the time Bhutan first detected COVID-19, she has been generally stressed over the health and safety of her child and her sick mother at home in Phuentsholing. She added that the last two years were difficult and it is even more stressful now for her to see the increasing number of cases.

“I simply wish that there was a vaccine for my child as well,” said Choden.

Rinchen, a mother of a four-year-old child in Thimphu, said she is worried about her child and venturing outdoors as it is risky, especially with Thimphu recording more than 200 cases in a day. She wants to be home more to take care of her child.

“At least if there is a vaccine for children under five, many parents would be at ease” said Rinchen.

Another mother to a three-year-old little girl, Dema Thinley, said she quit her business to stay home with her daughter because of the increasing number of positive cases in Thimphu.

Likewise, there are many parents who have expressed health concerns over their children are unvaccinated. The highly contagious Omicron variant is quickly spreading in Thimphu and other dzongkhags as well. They said despite the fact that they are vaccinated, the vaccines do not ensure that they won’t get infected, and another concern is some people do not show any symptoms of COVID-19.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 can cause severe illness in infants and children, including those aged 0–4 years who are not yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccination.

During Omicron variant predominance beginning in late December 2021, infants and children aged 0–4 years were hospitalized at approximately five times the rate of the previous peak during Delta variant predominance in the United States (US). Infants aged below 6 months had the highest rates of hospitalization.

According to World Health Organizations (WHO), children and adolescents can experience prolonged clinical symptoms known as long COVID-19 or post COVID-19 condition. However, the frequency and characteristics of these conditions are still under investigation. Additionally, a pediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome temporally associated with SARS-CoV-2 in Europe and multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children in the US, although rare, has been reported to occur worldwide and complicate recovery from COVID-19.

A pediatrician at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center stated COVID-19 variants, including the very contagious Omicron variant, continue to spread, particularly in areas with low rates of community COVID-19 vaccination and among populations, such as children under 5, who cannot yet be vaccinated.

In rare cases, children infected with the coronavirus can develop a serious lung infection and become very sick with COVID-19, and deaths have occurred. That’s why it is important to use precautions and prevent infection in children as well as adults.

According to CDC, most newborns who test positive for the coronavirus have mild symptoms or none at all, and recover, but serious cases have occurred. Pregnant women should take extra precautions.

Generally, COVID-19 symptoms in kids and babies are milder than those in adults, and some infected children may not have any signs of being sick at all. Fever and cough are common COVID-19 symptoms in both adults and children.

Several trial COVID-19 vaccines are being tested for younger age groups, including as young as 6 months of age, but full results have not yet been published.

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