Covid-19 infections in children higher in third wave - NICD

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  • The National Institute of Communicable Diseases reports higher Covid-19 positivity rates in children during the third Covid-19 wave, compared to previous waves.
  • Between March and June, more than 180 000 children tested positive for Covid-19. 
  • The NICD is calling for more vigilance in schools to contain the spread of virus.

The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) has raised the alarm over the number of children who have tested positive for Covid-19 during the country's third wave of infections.

The organisation's monthly Covid-19 report on children states that positive cases in people who are younger than 19 have increased since the start of the third wave in all provinces, except for the Northern Cape. The positivity rates for the third wave have also been higher than they were in the first or second waves.

The report included an analysis of data from the period 1 March to 19 June, during which 184 187 children tested positive. 

"Among individuals of all ages with laboratory-confirmed Covid-19, there was an increase in the proportion of cases in the ≤19 years age group in the third wave-to-peak period, compared to the first wave-to-peak period," the NICD said. 

READ | Third wave: Limpopo sees rise in Covid-19 infections in children

They said this might reflect increased testing among children because of cluster outbreaks in schools or reduced susceptibility among adults who experienced higher rates of infection in previous waves.

"Among all individuals, cases in the third wave-to-peak period were more likely to be in individuals 1-19 years than with individuals >19 years compared to the first cases in the period the first wave to peak," the NICD stated.

The NICD added that by 19 June, children younger than 19 made up 13.4% of all tests and 10.2% of all laboratory-confirmed cases.

Of the confirmed positive cases, 4.2% were admitted to hospital and only 0.7% died.  Of the 11 129 Covid-19-associated admissions among children, 688 were admitted into the intensive care unit, and 252 were ventilated. 

"The proportion of hospitalised individuals aged ≤19 years compared to [those] >19 years with laboratory-confirmed Covid-19, was significantly higher in the third wave-to-peak period compared to the first wave-to-peak period."

There were 380 in-hospital deaths. Of these, 146 were among adolescents aged 15 to 19 years, and 121 were aged under one year. In 219 in-hospital deaths, the children had underlying conditions.

READ | Covid-19: Lambda variant not detected in SA yet - researchers

"There remains a need to maintain heightened vigilance and consistent implementation of non-pharmaceutical interventions within schools and discourage community and mass gatherings involving young people as case numbers have been increasing in several provinces in recent weeks. Subsequent reports will confirm whether these trends are sustained."

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