Imphal Review of Arts and Politics

COVID and children depiction (courtesy UNICEF)

Many Children Infected as Manipur’s Covid-19 Numbers Surge by the Day in Second Wave

In the first wave of deadly COVID-19 pandemic, children were said to be less vulnerable than aged old people. However, the continuous surge of COVID-19 second wave in Manipur has infected many children below 18 years of age including a two-months-old baby.

According to calculations based on data available from official sources the total number of children (below 18 years of age) out of the 5,278 COVID-19 positive cases in the last week (from May 22 to 28) is found to be 909. It implies that the percentage of children found to be COVID-19 positive is 17.22% while the average positivity rate of the last week against the 25,840 reported tests is 20.43% with the highest of 23.93% on May 22.

However, cumulative number of children tested COVID-19 cannot be calculated at the time of filing this story as some official data could not be available. Moreover, the total fatality in the last week is 100 and the average mortality rate of the week is 1.89%.

As of May 28, the cumulative number of positive cases is 47,843 while the total number of recovered cases is 39,480 with recovery rate of 82.51%. The cumulative number of deaths is 761 with average mortality rate of 1.6%.

Unfortunately, a seven-year-old girl succumbed to the pandemic on May 25 while another five-year-old boy couldn’t be saved from the virus on April 8 this year.

The minor girl hailed from Imphal West district. She died of COVID-19 on May 25, an hour after she was admitted at Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences (JNIMS), Porompat, Imphal. She was admitted to the Covid Ward of JNIMS at around 3.57 am and succumbed at 5 am. She was COVID-19 positive without co-morbidity, said a statement of the hospital.

As early as March 2021, cases of the COVID-19 infecting children in Manipur were reported. There was a report of children having tested COVID-19 positive in which three boarders of St. John’s School Nungba, a private school in Noney district of Manipur, tested positive for COVID-19 on March 16 after they had some symptoms like fever. They are studying in Class VIII, hailing from M Khunou village under Nungba Sub-division. They were then admitted to Covid Care Centre of Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences (JNIMS), Imphal and recovered.

It may be noted that as many as 50 children below 18 years of age have been tested positive for COVID-19 since March 1 in Kangpokpi district alone, which is a matter of serious concern. As of May 26 the number of cumulative positive cases in Kangpokpi district reached 1,507 since the first wave.

As experts predict severe impact of COVID-19 on children in a third wave, Manipur needs to upgrade its limited infrastructure for child healthcare and ensure proper preparations to fight the pandemic successfully.

States like Maharashtra and many places of the country such as Indore, Bengaluru and Delhi have set up dedicated COVID Care Centre for children. Some states have also started procuring paediatric ventilators and medicines for children as a precautionary measure to handle the third wave of COVID-19.

Manipur has started witnessing increasing number of children being infected by COVID-19. However, not a single COVID Care Centre for children has been set up till date. In view of this, the department of Social Welfare has requested the authority concerned for opening of such a centre.

Apart from this, the healthcare facilities for children in the state are limited. It has become a matter of big concern whether adequate healthcare service can be provided for children if the state is hit by a third wave of COVID-19.

It may be mentioned that expressing concern over possible third wave of COVID-19 and its devastating impact on children, Indian Medical Association (IMA), Manipur State Branch ex-president and paediatrician, Dr. Shyamkumar Laishram has stressed the need for setting up a separate Covid Care Centre (CCC) for management of Covid-19 cases among children and emulate preparations being taken up by different states to strengthen related infrastructure.
The kind of infrastructure found in the state for treatment of children is very limited and would not be adequate to face the eventuality if the ongoing pandemic starts affecting children on a large scale, Dr. Shyamkumar added.

As such, the state needs to gear up in improving the infrastructure for child healthcare service and prepare to open one COVID NICU and PICU from now onwards so that any kind of COVID eventuality may be handled with ease, suggested Dr. Shyamkumar.

Reports quoting Dr. Shyamkumar said that there are five Paediatric Intensive Care Units (PICUs), eight Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and five Special Care Nursery Unit (SCNU) at Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences (JNIMS), according to a data they collected. Whereas in the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), there are five PICU, 10 NICU and five SCNU, reports added.

Among private hospitals, he mentioned that Mother’s Care Children Hospital has 13 PICU, four emergency wards and 21 combined NICU and SCNU; Shija Hospital and Research Institute has six PICU and 10 NICU; and Raj Medicity has seven NICU but PICU is combined with adult ICU.

The number of childcare units itself can predict the possibility of facing acute shortage in healthcare service for children in the state if the situation of the ongoing pandemic worsens, he added. Dr. Shyamkumar further said that a separate COVID Care Centre for children below 12 years is also necessary.

Meanwhile, Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren on May 28 announced to set up an 80-bedded dedicated COVID hospital for children below 15 years soon.

Reports said the chief minister made the announcement during the inaugural function of 10 KL Liquid Medical Oxygen Cryogenic Tank at Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences (JNIMS), Imphal.

It is a matter of concern that COVID-19 positive cases among children are steadily on the rise. The children’s hospital will be managed by trained paediatricians and a place for the hospital has been identified at Langthabal, Chief Minister Biren said.

Now, many experts say that in the subsequent wave of COVID-19, children are likely to be more vulnerable and preventive measures need to be taken up before the next wave invades.

Experts at UNICEF explain why more children in India are testing positive for COVID-19 during the second wave. As the number of people across India testing positive for the COVID-19 has increased, the number of children contracting the virus has also increased, the UNICEF website says.

One doctor who doesn’t want to be named told Imphal Review that slow contact tracing and testing is one of the major reasons for children getting infected in Manipur while many infected persons are in home isolation in spite of lack of infrastructures. Even though the person testing COVID-19 positive may be staying in the Covid Care Centre, delay in tests of immediate contacts of the family may also be one reason for the virus continuing to infect further.

One person whose daughter has been in one of the Covid Care Centre told Imphal Review that he has some fever and sample has been collected. However, the test result is not available even after four days. “I am worried if I am a carrier of the virus because I continue to deliver foods for my daughter”, the person who refused to be named said.

One feature of the new wave is that now entire households are becoming infected with the virus, more so than in the first wave. It may be one of the reasons for more children having tested COVID-19 positive.

The State Government needs to gear up mass testing and preparation for dedicated Covid Care Centres for children with requisite infrastructures located at suitable places while the children and family members need to strictly follow Covid appropriate behaviours.

3 thoughts on “Many Children Infected as Manipur’s Covid-19 Numbers Surge by the Day in Second Wave”

  1. Needs urgent Action, looking into the recent study that the second wave impact children the most.
    Ex- Member – Manipur Commission for protection of Child Rights.

  2. Deben Bachaspatimayum

    One lesson Covid-19 is teaching is the weakness of the State that it cannot guarantee life to its population at the time of disasters. People have to fend for themselves when the questions of survival challenges. This is the truth of the day and the government unable handle the situation has clearly said they can’t do it without community participation. The Govt has gone to the extent promoting home care for positive members of family which has only worsen the community transmission exponentially – situation going out of control. If one looks at the ways the present government at the centre has visibly worked more for promotion of private companies benefits at the expense of rights of the common people it is clear who the government is working for now and future
    It is time for the common to review their faith in the government. Sarkar is no more mapi-mapa of the praja-meeyam. This reality must shape the future politics

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