NewsDay (Zimbabwe)

Children not safe from COVID-19: Experts

- BY LORRAINE MUROMO Follow Lorraine on Twitter @RMuromo

CHILDREN in the country are said to be increasing­ly getting vulnerable to COVID-19 as infections continue to soar with the virus killing thousands, medical experts have warned.

This followed reports that a oneyear-old baby had succumbed to the deadly COVID-19 Delta variant in Bulawayo recently.

As at July 21, the Health ministry statistics showed that Zimbabwe had recorded 2 705 new infections and 62 deaths from the respirator­y virus.

While the number of deaths continued to rise, there has been raging debate in the country over the safety of COVID-19 vaccines on children, pregnant women and breast feeding mothers.

Medical and Dental Private Practition­ers of Zimbabwe Associatio­n president Johannes Marisa said inasmuch as children could not be inoculated with the COVID-19 jab, parents needed to constantly monitor for any symptoms of the disease on young ones.

“For ethical reasons, the vaccines were not made for young people aged below 18 years. When research was done, it was directed at the adult population preferably 18-60-year-olds. Kids were not included because it is unknown if they will develop side effects. That is the situation on the ground, but we need to make sure these minors are taken early to hospital,” Marisa said.

“The only thing haunting us is denialism, where people think COVID-19 infects adults and minors cannot catch it. Parents need to keep their children at home. They also need to seek treatment early whenever there are symptoms of the virus.”

Senior Hospital Doctors Associatio­n president Shingai Nyaguse added: “It would be good to first get the medical history of the minor who died from the Delta variant. The Delta variant is more transmissi­ble, but hasn’t yet been shown to be more deadly than previous variants.”

Community Working Group on Health executive director Itai Rusike believed it was high time authoritie­s changed tactic, especially now that many young children were succumbing to the virus.

“Due to the highly virulent COVID-19 variants, we're now starting to see the virus affecting minors. But due to the limited availabili­ty of vaccines, most African countries including Zimbabwe have delayed vaccinatin­g adolescent­s and minors, yet they are also highly-likely to get seriously ill from COVID-19 than adults,” he said.

Rusike said now that some children were catching the virus, and even dying, the country should consider vaccinatin­g children who were clinically vulnerable and live with vulnerable adults.

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