As a part of the Illness to Wellness campaign, ASSOCHAM, an apex industry body, conducted a webinar on ‘Managing Omicron for Children: Symptoms & Curative Actions’, with the primary goal of augmenting awareness and underlining attention to the reverberations of the variant on children as they are at a greater risk. It also aimed to enlighten parents on how to manage the virus with curative actions to keep their children safe and healthy.
Dr. Rajesh Kesari, Founder & Director, Total Care Control, Delhi–NCR, moderated the session and opened it by welcoming renowned medical experts and concentrated on sedentary lifestyles, physical and mental issues that are wreaking havoc on children amidst pandemic. “Children have been confined inside the houses for the past two years, so much so physical activities and interactions that are prerequisite for normal growth and development have been curtailed,” he said. He further questioned panelists on the COVID-appropriate behaviour, pediatric age group vaccinations, preventive measures, and COVID management approaches that need to be followed.
Praising the Government of India for handling the pandemic efficiently, Prof. Anupam Sibal, Group Medical Director, and Pediatric Gastroenterologist, Apollo Hospitals Group and President, Global Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (GAPIO) said, “Government of India has managed the pandemic situation with the greatest efficacy with the appropriate Ayushman Bharat infrastructure, reforms in health education, and government medical colleges that now outnumber private medical colleges.”
His takeaway from the pandemic is the spirit of collaboration between the private and public sectors. He went on to add that the healthcare system has vastly improved as a result of this collaborative spirit. “Public-private labs are nearly equal with 35,000 ICU beds and 17,000 ventilated beds in the public sector, while the private sector has 59,000 ICU beds and nearly 30,000 ventilated beds,” he said. He expressed gratitude for the vaccination drive, stating that India has administered 163 crore vaccines.
He also added that a loss of routine has resulted in children’s attention being drawn to junk food and binge-eating rather than drinking water. This has resulted in an increase in obesity cases in the previous year. Constipation has also become more common among youngsters who lead sedentary lives. However, a well-balanced diet is critical for optimum growth.
“In children, Omicron is typically moderate in nature. Cough, cold and fever are the most prevalent symptoms,” stated Dr. Nirmal Kumar, Head of Department, Pediatric St. Stephens Hospital, Delhi. While symptomatic therapy is needed most of the time, three Ws – wear mask, wash hands and watch distance – are critical for prevention, he added. He also encouraged youngsters, in the age group of 15-18, to register for vaccinations. He also touched upon the subject of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), which appears to be linked to coronavirus disease.
Dr. Prabhat Maheshwari, Chief, Neonatal & Pediatric Critical Care, Artemis Hospitals, Gurugram, in his address, said, “No age group has been more hit than children in the pandemic, not only in terms of health but also for their overall development.” He added that children have been highly neglected by being stuck at home and not going to school. He urged parents to send their kids to school and should not create panic about coronavirus.
He also claimed that diabetes in youngsters has increased in the last two years with the figures being greater this year than in the previous five years. He added that people should learn to live with COVID, eat a healthy diet, and avoid as much stress and worry as possible.
Dr. Praveen Khilnani, Senior Consultant, Pediatric Critical Care & Pulmonology and Director, Academics and Pediatric Critical Care & Fellowship Program Madhukar Rainbow Children’s Hospital Group, New Delhi, said, “Parents should be alert about COVID infection in their child, especially when there is prolonged fever (longer than 3 days), cough or gastrointestinal symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea and loss of appetite.” He added that children should ideally be vaccinated as Omicron maybe less severe than the Delta variant, however it’s infectious and affects children the most. Hopefully, this third wave should be short-lived, he predicts at the session that concluded with an insightful message for parents and children to fight COVID-19.