DURBAN – Most parents have voiced their concerns about sending their children to school, fearing that they might be affected by the coronavirus or even worse pass it to more vulnerable members of the household.
According to a new research published in the British Medical Journal, children and young people are far less likely than adults to get severe cases of Covid-19 infection, and death from the disease among children is exceptionally rare.
“We can be quite sure that Covid in itself is not causing harm to children on a significant scale. The highest level message really has to be that (in children with Covid-19) severe disease is rare, and death is vanishingly rare – and that (parents) should be comforted that their children are not at direct harm by going back into school,” said Prof. Malcolm Semple, who co-led the work.
Evidence from around the world consistently shows that although children were initially thought to be super-spreaders (based on the influenza model), this assumption was incorrect, and in fact children are rarely the primary sources of infection in a household or population. Children are much more likely to be infected by adults in their own homes or at social gatherings where adults are present.
Global data on the spread of the coronavirus pandemic shows that children and young people make up only 1-2% of cases of Covid-19 worldwide. The vast majority of reported infections in children are mild or asymptomatic, with few recorded deaths.
Dr Fiona Kritzinger, a paediatric pulmonologist, says children aged 0-18 in South Africa accounted for only 5% of Covid-19 cases.
“Children and young people have a lower susceptibility to Sars-CoV-2, with 56% lower odds of being an infected contact.South African data on Covid-19 case distribution by age shows that children aged 5 to 9 years have an incidence of 15 cases per 100000 population; 10- to 14-year-olds have an incidence of 22 per 100000 population, and 38 per 100000 in children 15 to 19 years old. In comparison, the incidence in the 20- to 60-year-old groups varies between 94 and 228 per 100000 population.”
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