Children aged below 12 starting to make up the majority of Covid-19 cases admitted to hospitals, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Children aged below 12 starting to make up the majority of Covid-19 cases admitted to hospitals

Children below the age of 12 are starting to make up the majority of Covid-19 cases that are admitted to hospitals, Singapore's director of medical services Kenneth Mak said on Friday (Jan 21).

The KK Women's and Children's Hospital and the National University Hospital have reported that they are seeing more children with Covid-19 and non-Covid-19-related respiratory symptoms who require admission.

While more children with Omicron infections need to be admitted for treatment, they do not require long hospital stays or intensive care, Associate Professor Mak said at a virtual press conference held by the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19.

"Nonetheless, an increase in admissions fills up the beds in our paediatric wards that are dedicated for Covid-19 infected children. We're working closely with both hospitals to ensure there's sufficient bed capacity for the children," he added.

The situation is compounded by the increase in numbers of children with non-Covid-19-related respiratory infections who also may require hospital care.

Based on local data of those below 12 years of age with Covid-19 between Oct 1, 2021, and Jan 16, 2022, Singapore had 14,380 children infected with the coronavirus, among whom four had severe infection needing either oxygen supplementation or intensive care. This corresponds to an incidence rate of 0.03 per cent, or 30 in 100,000 cases, Prof Mak added.

Fifteen children in this group developed multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children. This is a condition where the child's immune system overreacts after a Covid-19 infection, typically two to eight weeks later. This represents an incidence rate of 0.1 per cent, or 100 per 100,000 cases, which is higher than that reported in some other earlier studies internationally.

"The rate of severe Covid-19 infection in children or having a severe complication after Covid-19 infection is not trivial," Prof Mak said.

"It's important for us to note that while infections in children are generally less severe than in adults, infections are not mild."

The children who needed oxygen treatment or intensive care ranged in age from less than one to nine years, all of whom were unvaccinated. Under the national vaccination programme, three out of four of them would have been eligible for vaccination, he said.

"This reinforces the need to better protect our children against Covid-19 and the risk of a bad outcome. We've launched our vaccination programme for these children between five and 11 years of age, and we have seen a good take-up of vaccines so far."