Why kids are possibly less likely to transmit the coronavirus. Picture: August de Richelieu from Pexels
Why kids are possibly less likely to transmit the coronavirus. Picture: August de Richelieu from Pexels

Why kids are possibly less likely to transmit the coronavirus

By Viwe Ndongeni-Ntlebi Time of article published Jun 15, 2020

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As the schools continue to open across the country, parents are starting to feel more anxious about sending their kids to school due to the pandemic.

A doctor at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town, Mignon Mcculloch, says that children were less likely to transmit the coronavirus.

“Children seem to be less affected and transmit less than adults do when it comes to the coronavirus. So, looking at the available evidence at the moment, we are seeing that there are huge advantages in getting children back to school,” saiys Mcculloch.

Professor Helena Rabie from Tygerberg Hospital says that in most children, the severity is less than in adults. 

“It is important to note that where children are diagnosed with Covid-19, they are usually affected as one of a family that is affected and children are rarely the ones bringing the infection into the home. 

"This is very different from Avian Influenza where children often bring the virus into the home. If  Children are infected they can carry as much virus in the respiratory tract as adults, but in the case of younger children, we think they are not as likely to spread the illness. Again, we are not sure why that is,” says Rabie.

What are some of the early signs of the coronavirus infection in a child? 

Rabie says children can present with features of respiratory illness and loose stools, they don't always have a fever. 

“Parents may have noted the press reporting increase in the cases of a disease called KAWASAKI disease and also other fevers and rashes in children that scientists are now attributing SARS-CoV2 infections.

“We think these are reactions to asymptomatic viral infections. In most of the children with these conditions there are no viruses detected but they have the antibody to the virus in the blood, indicating a part infection. In Europe and the USA they started to see these children later in the course of the in-country epidemic,” adds Rabie. 

The National Department of Health, says it should be noted that children with most common underlying conditions like allergic rhinitis and mild asthma do not appear to be at significant risk. 

Only the small number of children with serious underlying conditions such as severe immunodeficiencies, chronic lung conditions, severe uncontrolled asthma and uncorrected congenital heart conditions are considered to be at high risk. 

The department says in preparation for school, all children need to be prepared for school. They need to understand the importance of physical distancing, and hand and cough hygiene, and that everyone needs to protect each other by wearing a mask. 

Parents should make sure that children on long term medication are taking their medication so that their health is optimised. Parents of the very small number of children with underlying conditions which place them at high risk should talk to their child’s school to decide on the best course of action for their child.

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