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‘Need to focus on Covid spread among children’

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on May 19, 2021

Studies have found them to be superspreaders, says VK Paul

Niti Aayog Member (Health) VK Paul, on Tuesday, cautioned about the spread of Covid infection among children as well as in rural areas and said the prime focus of the government is to prevent the spread of infection in the hinterland.

Surveys have shown that the positivity rate was alarming among adults than children, with most infected children remaining asymptomatic. But children too need to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour as studies have found them to be superspreaders, said Paul during a media briefing here.

Phase II/III clinical trial

Currently children are not covered by vaccination, but Bharat Biotech is expected to begin bridge phase II/III clinical trials of its Covaxin in children aged between 2 to 18 years in the next 10-12 days.

“In casechildren have got affected by coronavirus and are showing severe symptoms, which is highly unlikely, all the protocols laid out by the government have to be strictly followed,” said the Niti Aayog Member. Last October, a study released by researchers from the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI), Johns Hopkins University and the University of California Berkeley, in collaboration with public health officials in India, showed that children and young adults have more propensity to transmit novel coronavirus, especially within households. The research study had tracked the infection pathways in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

In fact, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in a tweet on Tuesday warned the Centre that a new Covid variant found in Singapore is being said to be extremely dangerous for children and may come in India as third wave. “The Centre must immediately cancel air services with Singapore and prioritise the options for vaccinating children at the earliest,” he has tweeted.

At the briefing Paul also emphasised on the government’s special focus on preventing infections in rural areas. Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also held a virtual interaction with the field officers from different States such as Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, among others.

The PM had told them there is a need to protect rural areas and far-flung places from the impact of the second wave, and that the field officials in districts and States have a big role to play in containing the infection in their local areas.

At the briefing Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary in the Health Ministry, said there is a consistent upward trend in weekly tests since mid-February with average daily tests more than 2.5 times in the last 14 weeks. He added that after a consistent increase in case positivity for 13 weeks, a decline in case positivity was seen since last week.

With States such as Kerala and Maharashtra reporting good number of recoveries, the number of active Covid-19 cases in the country dropped to little more than 33.5 lakh during the last 24 hours till Tuesday morning.

Death toll

The total number of Covid-19 deaths reported in India till date is 2,78,719. India has administered 18,44,53,149 vaccine doses, including 15,10,418 shots given in the last 24 hours. The number of Covid tests conducted on Monday stood at 18,69,223.

Published on May 18, 2021

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