Children are not the main drivers of Covid-19 in SA – NICD report

By Rudolph Nkgadima Time of article published Jun 1, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - A report by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) shows that children are not the main drivers of Covid-19 in South Africa.

According to the report, children made up 9.4% of all the cases in SA and 3.8% of Covid-19 hospital admissions from March 1, 2020 to May 1, 2021.

Of the total deaths in the under-19 age group, 146 (36.4%) were adolescents aged 15-19 and 125 (31.2%) were under a year old.

Speaking on SABC’s “MorningLive”, a senior epidemiologist at NICD, Dr Tendesayi Kufa-Chakezha, said the data does not show whether infants who are admitted to hospital and die later, do so due to Covid-19-related complications.

“Most of the children that get Covid-19 or test positive for Covid-19 have mild symptoms that don’t require them to be admitted in hospital. This is the major limitation of our data. We don’t always know why these infants are admitted because the data that we get is reported to us,” she said

Chakezha added that the data that came through didn’t always say if the death was related to Covid-19.

Published studies also suggest that the clinical presentation of Covid-19 in individuals under the age of 19 differs from that of older people. Children who become infected are more likely to be asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic and less likely to need hospital care compared to adults. However, there are concerns of possible limited testing in children leading to cases among children being missed

Last week, Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga gazetted new directives, promulgated under the Disaster Management Act, that schools must comply with. Under these new regulations Grade R to Grade 7 pupils need to return to daily attendance in July.

Addressing Parliament’s education committee earlier today on the preparations for a third wave of Covid-19, Motshekga told MPs that the department had requested the Treasury and the presidency to make provision for teachers.

“I can assure that from the word go, we had requested a special dispensation for teachers to make sure that not only on the basis of returning learners back to school but on the basis that we can deal with comorbidities to make sure that they come back to class.”

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