As on Tuesday, Tamil Nadu has recorded 20,877 cases among children up to the age of 12. However, the fatalities are considerably lower in children and infants.
"There are more than 400 asymptomatic cases among infants admitted to the Institute of Child Health (ICH), Egmore. There are also cases of newborns testing positive, but they remained stable and recovered fully. The mortality rate among children is relatively low when compared to elders; the very few critical cases were mainly due to comorbidities such as heart disorders, genetic issues and other pulmonary issues. However, they can spread the infection easily, as the risk of contagion is higher due to high viral load," said Dr Mohan Kumar, paediatrician, ICH.
According to a study done on paediatric patients by Massachusetts General Hospital and Mass General Hospital for Children, it was found that children can play a significant role in the community spread of COVID-19. In a study on 192 children, the infected children were shown to have higher viral load in their airways than hospitalised adults in intensive care units.
Dr Kalpana Bharani Kumar, consultant neonatologist and paediatrician at Motherhood Hospital, said that data from research and general observation suggested that children might remain asymptomatic despite a higher viral load.
"The immune response in adults is higher and thus the release of toxins affects the body immediately, while the children do not have such a higher amount of toxins release and remain asymptomatic. Despite easy recovery, children can be silent spreaders of COVID-19, and thus should not be taken lightly. All the precautionary measures should be taken to ensure that children do not spread the infection to others in the family," added Dr Kalpana.