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HomeHeadlinesWhy children didn’t experience worse COVID-19 outcomes—Ihekweazu

Why children didn’t experience worse COVID-19 outcomes—Ihekweazu

IMG 20210118 083708 2 transcpr 1The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, says the worst outcome of the coronavirus had spared children because its manifestation in them was less severe, often asymptomatic and often not clinically significant to visit the hospitals.

Ihekweazu spoke at the Virtual Plenary Session and Annual General Meeting of the Paediatric Association of Nigeria in Lagos on Friday.

Ihekweazu expressed support for the Federal Government’s decision to reopen schools for the second term of the 2020/2021 academic session, noting that the benefits of having children in school outweigh the risks of transmission of COVID-19.

“Just 10 percent of our cases have been confirmed in children and one percent deaths.

“The few deaths that occurred in children were likely to have happened to them through morbidity that led to deficits in coping with the virus,” he said.

Ihekweazu called for collaboration among governments, schools and parents to effectively protect children from contracting the virus.

Last September, the World Health Organisation had stated that, “So far, data suggests that children under the age of 18 years represent about 8.5 percent of reported [COVID-19] cases, with relatively few deaths, compared to other age groups and usually mild disease.”

However, it also noted that there were cases of critical illness among the young population on account of pre-existing health conditions.

“As with adults, pre-existing medical conditions have been suggested as a risk factor for severe disease and intensive care admission in children.

“Further studies are underway to assess the risk of infection in children and to better understand transmission in this age group,” WHO said.

Ihekweazu noted that the current data and statistics on the welfare of Nigerian children was not encouraging, and that school closure would worsen the situation by denying them what they require to have healthy and productive lives.

He lamented that Nigeria has the highest number of out of school children, with nearly 31 million under the age of five and about half of the population under the age of 15 falling into the category.

The NCDC boss noted that children are not majorly affected by COVID-19 at the moment, but that they stand the risk of being among the most vulnerable.

Ihekweazu, however, called for collaboration among government at all levels, schools and parents to effectively protect children from contracting the virus.

As talks were ongoing for school resumption, the United Nations Children’s Fund, warned that closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic will impact negatively on the development, safety and wellbeing of children globally.

It further warned that the effects of closing school for another year will be felt for generations to come, and that there are overwhelming evidences to show that schools were not drivers of the viral disease.

 

UNICEF noted that schoolchildren were more vulnerable to abuse, child marriage and child labour in the absence of the safety that schools often provided.

“Without school meals, children are left hungry and their nutrition is worsening.

“Without daily interactions with their peers and a reduction in mobility, they are losing physical fitness and showing signs of mental distress,” UNICEF warned.

The UN agency noted that the number of out-of-school children is set to rise by 24 million to a level not yet seen in years and to a level it has fought so hard to overcome.

“Devastating cost of school closures will affect 90 per cent of students worldwide and deny a third of school children access to remote education.

“Children’s ability to read, write and do basic mathematics has suffered, and the skills they need to thrive in the 21st-century economy have diminished.

“Their health, development, safety and well-being are at risk. The most vulnerable among them will bear the heaviest brunt.

“Without school meals, children are left hungry and their nutrition is worsening.

“Without daily interactions with their peers and a reduction in mobility, they are losing physical fitness and showing signs of mental distress,” UNICEF stated.

The agency further noted assessing the risk of transmission at the local level should be a key determinant in decisions on school operations.

“Nationwide school closures must be avoided whenever possible.

“Where there are high levels of community transmission, where health systems are under extreme pressure and where closing schools is deemed inevitable, safeguarding measures must be put in place.

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