New Delhi: There is an ongoing discussion in many countries, including in India, about how to go about reopening schools and other educational institutions even as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on? The prime consideration is, of course, the safety of children from the virus itself and their role as carriers of the infection. Can children contract COViD-19 and spread it to others in schools like the staff or back home to other members of the family.
According to the analysis that has been done by the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme, which functions under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), the age-wise breakup of deaths in India until July 2 shows that mere 0.54 per cent deaths were in children aged less than 14 years. Whereas, the analysis stated that almost one in 3 deaths (32.79 per cent) due to COVID-19 was reported in the 45-59 age group, followed by 39.02 per cent in the 60-74 age group. The report also highlighted that the percentage of deaths in India were significantly low in the age groups 15-29 with 2.64 per cent and in people aged 30-44 years with 10.82 per cent.
NDTV spoke to Dr Rajinder K Dhamija, Head of Neurology Department, Lady Hardinge Medical College to understand if children and young adults are really less vulnerable to the highly contagious infection.
NDTV: Is It True, Children Or Young Adults Are Less Vulnerable To The Disease?
Dr Rajinder K Dhamija: Novel coronavirus outbreak is still very new to India; we have been dealing from the pandemic for only six months now and yet there is a lot of things that need to be discovered related to the disease. Everywhere, research and studies are going on, and as we move ahead, we are getting more and more information about the virus.
There has also been a study from the USA done by Harvard University where they have done research on 65,000 children but their findings have said that children too are equally capable of spreading novel coronavirus and when they will get coronavirus, the chances of mortality are also there. The thing with coronavirus and its death rate is that it depends totally on the seriousness of the symptoms and complications. And, as coronavirus crisis spreads in the country, the more we are getting to learn about it. So, at this moment one can’t say if the study or information is true or not.
NDTV: Can Coronavirus Affect Young Adults Later In Their Life?
Dr Rajinder K Dhamija: As of now, no one can answer this because for now everywhere short-term studies are going on, ON coronavirus and how it affects humans. Later, when we start doing long term studies on the symptoms and effect of coronavirus, maybe after one year or 5 years on what are the after-effects of coronavirus, we will be in a better position to draw conclusions.
NDTV: Is It True To Say, Young Adults or Children Spread Coronavirus Infection More And On Other Hand, Their Chances Of Catching The Virus Is Less?
Dr Rajinder K Dhamija: From the past experiences, we can say, that chances of severity or catching the virus in children is definitely less and that can be attributed either to the Bacille Calmette-Guérin vaccine (BCG) or because of repeated infections which they are prone to get. Whereas, when it comes to spreading the infection, a child or young adult is as likely to spread the virus as any other person. So, thinking that children or young adults don’t spread the disease is not an option, precautions should be taken, whatsoever.
And, we live in a country, where the tradition of joint family is more, so, if a house has both young children and grandparents, then the chances of the house spreading the virus are even more and they should at all cost take necessary precautions.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.