Rise in child Covid-19 infections 'a reflection of what is happening in communities'
As Covid-19 cases surge amid a third wave in the country, experts believe it is not surprising to see more younger people contracting the virus.
Prof Haroon Saloojee, of Wits University's paediatrics and child health department, said the transmission to children was a reflection of what was happening in communities.
“In both previous waves, infections in children increased as adult infections went up (and while schools were closed). It is important to understand that infections in school-aged children (pupils) does not mean that the children acquired the infection at school.
“Most children acquire their infection from adults and in and out of school settings, particularly at after-school gatherings, parties or activities; or at family or community events. The school setting itself contributes in a small way to children getting Covid-19,” Salojee told TimesLIVE.
Salojee said evidence suggested that when mitigation measures are in place, transmission within schools is limited and infection rates mirror those of the surrounding community.
“Existing, and well known, infection prevention strategies must continue to be enforced including the use of face masks, physical distancing (extra space between desks) and regular hand sanitisation.
“Learners should stay with the same teacher and classmates if possible. Symptomatic children and school staff must stay at home,” he said.
Higher Health CEO Dr Ramneek Ahluwalia believes that because young people are mostly or predominantly asymptomatic, they are the biggest carriers of Covid-19.
“They exactly carry this virus from one individual to the other and give the virus that energy to move from one human body to the other. Whether you are talking to children in school or adults at universities or colleges, the youth are always going to be the carrier of this virus the most.
“Viruses love the youth because that gives them the ability to move from one body to the other. I think that youth are very central and a very important element for any outbreak, any wave of any pandemic that relates to Covid-19.”
On Wednesday, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said SA had recorded more than 13,000 new Covid-19 cases in the previous 24 hours,
In its latest statistics, the NICD said that 13,246 new cases had been recorded at a positivity rate of 21.7%. Gauteng was again at the forefront of the growing number of cases, with 7,859 of the infections recorded there.
According to the worldometers.info website, the last time SA recorded more than 13,000 cases in a single day was on January 16, when 13,973 new infections were recorded.
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