Young People At Lower Risk For Covid-19, More Research Needed: WHO

WHO Director-General says Covid-19 can kill children, adolescents, but data shows far fewer severe cases, deaths recorded for young

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Since the beginning of the pandemic, understanding how Covid-19 affects children has been a priority issue. We know that this virus can have a severe impact on children, but that children tend to have a milder infection and there are very few severe cases and deaths from Covid-19 among children and adolescents.

So far, data suggest that children under the age of 18 years represent about 8.5% of reported cases, with relatively few deaths compared to other age groups and usually mild disease. As with adults, pre-existing medical conditions have been suggested as a risk factor for severe disease and intensive care admission in children.

While masks can protect individuals from novel coronavirus, but they can be fatal for toddlers. An international expert panel constituted by the World Health Organisation has recommended that children aged 5 years and below should not be required to wear masks.

As some little ones do not understand the significance of masks, and also find it incredibly uncomfortable. This is based on the safety and overall interest of the child and the capacity to appropriately use a mask with minimal assistance.

“Children aged 5 years and under should not be required to wear masks. This is based on the safety and overall interest of the child and the capacity to appropriately use a mask with minimal assistance,” the WHO said.

Children who are in general good health can wear a non-medical or fabric mask. This provides source control, meaning it keeps the virus from being transmitted to others if they are infected and are not aware that they are infected.

WHO and UNICEF advise that the decision to use masks for children aged 6-11 should be based on the following factors:

  • Whether there is widespread transmission in the area where the child resides
  • The ability of the child to safely and appropriately use a mask
  • Access to masks, as well as laundering and replacement of masks in certain settings (such as schools and childcare services)
  • Adequate adult supervision and instructions to the child on how to put on, take off and safely wear masks
  • The potential impact of wearing a mask on learning and psychosocial development, in consultation with teachers, parents/caregivers and/or medical providers
  • Specific settings and interactions the child has with other people who are at high risk of developing a serious illness, such as the elderly and those with other underlying health conditions

WHO and UNICEF advise that children aged 12 and over should wear a mask under the same conditions as adults, in particular when they cannot guarantee at least a 1-metre distance from others and there is widespread transmission in the area.

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Tuesday that “given the devastating consequences on children, youth and our societies as a whole,” school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic should be a “last resort.” He added they should also be temporary, and “only” applied in places with high levels of virus transmission, stating that “continuity of education should be guaranteed through distance learning.”

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