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Medical expert dismisses fears that children are more vulnerable to Omicron variant

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SA Medical Association chairperson, Dr Angelique Coetzee, says there should not be hype on the amount of children in hospitals with Covid-19 because the minors are brought to facilities for other ailments - not Covid-19. File Picture

Published Dec 7, 2021

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Pretoria – Reports of young children being admitted in hospitals across South Africa for Covid-19 treatment have caused alarm, amidst a fourth wave and the new strain of Omricon variant of the virus.

The South African Medical Association (Sama) has allayed fears of the speculated outbreak in children, explaining that the minors are routinely brought to medical facilities for other ailments and they then test positive for Covid-19 when screened.

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“The children are being brought to hospital for something else, and not because of Omicron. Incidentally, they are positive as well. There is hype around children which should not be there. The children are not more sicker, more ill than the adult population,” Sama chairperson, Dr Angelique Coetzee told Independent Media.

“The children are not admitted because they have Omicron, the virus. They are admitted because they have diarrhea or any other reason. Everyone now who comes to hospital needs to be screened. The children are not sick with Covid-19 but they test positive.”

Coetzee said it was unclear at this stage, if the Omricon variant was spreading much faster in comparison with other previous strains like the Delta variant, or if it would cause severe illness – as previous variants.

“In hospitals, we don’t see patients with severe illness yet, maybe they will still come in. It is a fast spreading virus but is it fast spreading than Delta? We don’t know. We will know when we come to our peak and then you can compare the peak of Omicron and the peak of Delta. But for now you cannot say it’s faster than Delta. We will see,” she explained.

The South African Medical Association (Sama) has appealed to community members across South Africa to take advantage of numerous vaccination drives in the country and vaccinate ahead of the festive season – which is characterized by partying and pleasure-seeking.

Coetzee, said in her experience, the people who are not vaccinated are not necessarily “anti-vaxxers” but people who regard going to vaccinate as “too much of an effort”.

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“People should just vaccinate. I don’t know why it is so difficult to understand that. This is for free. You cannot go partying while you are not vaccinated,” said Coetzee.

“It is difficult to understand, so what I see from the people that have not vaccinated, is that they feel that it is too much of an effort to go and get vaccinated. They are not anti-vaxxers at all. It’s just a slip. To them, there is time for anything else but not vaccination.”

On Monday, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said it had recorded 6 381 new Covid-19 cases in South Africa.

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“Today the institute reports 6 381 new Covid-19 cases that have been identified in South Africa, which brings the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 3 038 075.

“This increase represents a 26.4% positivity rate.”

As per the National Department of Health, a further nine Covid-19 related deaths have been reported, bringing total fatalities to 89 975 to date.

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“A total of 19 785 993 tests have been conducted in both public and private sectors,” the NICD said.

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