Even as the Odisha government makes preparations on war-footing in anticipation of a third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the high rate of infections among children and adolescents has become a major cause of concern for the State health authorities.
As per the data compiled by the State Health and Family Welfare Department, Odisha is now averaging over 100 daily Covid infections among children. From August 15 to till date, barring August 17, the State witnessed 100 plus trend in infection in the age group of zero to 18 years.
On August 15, as many as 138 cases of infection in the age group of 0-18 years were recorded, 104 on August 16, 96 on August 17, 138 on August 18 and 128 each on August 19. Today too, 128 children were found infected with the virus.
The Covid infected children are being treated at different hospitals across the State. Two out of three children admitted with Covid at Covid Hospital-2 of VIMSAR, Burla, have recovered and discharged while a four-month-old child was admitted at the Covid Hospital 1 of MKCG Medical College and Hospital in Berhampur yesterday.
“Our hospital has enough ICU beds, but we kept 10 beds for children. If needed, we will increase the bed strength. Besides, the general ICUs can also be used,” Santosh Mishra, superintendent of MKCG Medical College and Hospital said.
The State government data revealed that many children and adolescents were infected with Covid in the first and second waves and several of them lost lives. While 13 children and adolescents died in the first wave, the State recorded 23 deaths in this age group in the second wave.
National as well as international health experts estimate that more number of children will catch the virus in the third wave. Keeping in mind such estimation, special bed arrangements have been made for treatment of children in Sishu Bhawan in Cuttack, various district headquarters hospitals, sub-divisional hospitals and community health centres.
“Now over 100 infections are detected among children and we are prepared to tackle the surge. In the first phase, we have identified 3,000 beds for treatment of children. Efforts are on to increase the bed strength,” said DMET chief CBK Mohanty.
The rising infection among children has affected the school education in the State. Though physical classes for Standard IX and X students have commenced, majority of the guardians are reluctant to send their lads to schools.
“As the infection among children is increasing by the day, we are scared of sending our children to school. We are also concerned about their future,” said, Pradeep Jani, a guardian in Nabarangpur.
Speaking about the attendance in schools, State School and Mass Education Minister Samir Dash said, “Children have been asked to go to schools following consent of their guardians. More than 70 percent children are turning up in schools. Besides, decision has been taken to impart education to children who are not coming to schools, via YouTube.”