Dr Sabrina Kitaka treats Covid-19 infected children at Mulago Hospital. Daily Monitor’s Tonny Abbet caught up with her and this is what she had to say.
How does Covid-19 manifest in a child and what are the chances of them getting infected?
I have had the opportunity to treat a couple of children with Covid-19. While the symptoms in both children and adults are similar , they tend to be mild in children.
Many parents are worried about testing and treatment for Covid-19 especially with the second wave but the truth is, most children who become infected, don’t become as sick as the adults. Some even may not show any symptoms.
In children, recovery is within one or two weeks. [Adults can take as many as 28 days to recover according to information from other doctors treating Covid-19].
The possible symptoms in children include high-grade fever, chills and riggers, nasal congestion or a runny nose, shortness of breath, body pain, loss of sense of smell or taste, abdominal pain which may present with diarrhoea.
It is true that some children can become critically ill, but these are those with diabetes, asthma, sickle cell disease and obesity. Children with heart diseases can also become critically ill.
Close to 1,000 cases are detected on a daily basis and about 100 are children (10 per cent). In other countries like the United States, children can contribute 13 per cent of total infections.
What actions should parents take if they see these Covid-like symptoms?
Parents should think critically and seek medical care because the child could be having Covid-19. Keep such a child at home so as not to expose other children and don’t self-medicate.
A lot of parents are self-medicating. I have seen long reeling lines at pharmacies where parents are stocking on corticosteroids, loads of antibiotics. Consult with the doctor, paediatrician so that they give you the correct medicine and the right doses.
We have seen situations where little babies have been given doses for adults and they have been brought to the hospital with serious complications.
If your child is above six years, let them wear their mask and ensure everyone else in the house observes social distancing, wearing of masks and frequent handwashing.
Try to get the child to eat lots of fruits, freshly squeezed juice and lots of water. I have heard many parents say they are going to give their children local concoctions of ginger, chilli, garlic, lemon, please be cautious with those concoctions. They are very acidic and may turn your child into an emergency of peptic ulcers.
Some of my colleagues [endocrinologists] has said she saw some children present with diabetes like disease following Covid-19 infection.
Is there Covid-19 vaccine for children?
We don’t have a vaccine for children in Uganda, the AstraZeneca vaccine that is recommended for people 18 years and above. World over, it is only the Pfizer vaccine is recommended by the American Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and that is given to children who are 12 years and above.
What is your last advice to parents?
In the meantime, let children practicse social distancing, eat healthy, play in the sun to strengthen their immunity.
A parent should be able to differentiate between a common cold and Covid-19 but that takes a critical eye and a high index of suspicion. Has a child been exposed to someone who tested positive or do they have a positive Covid-9 test certificate?