More school age children seem to be falling sick these days as doctors caution residents about a “tripledemic” – one that includes the flu, the common respiratory virus (RSV), and the coronavirus – being on the rise.
While most Covid related restrictions have been lifted now, medics say coronavirus isn't the only virus posing a threat to children – they also see the rise of influenza and viruses like RSV being a danger.
Dr Supriya G Menen, Specialist Pediatrician, Aster Clinic, Discovery Garden, says, “with the onset of the flu season, more children have been falling ill, particularly with more upper respiratory tract infections like influenza. With the onslaught of the change in the climate from summer to winter, there are more flare ups in children with allergic rhinitis and HRAD's (hyper reactive airway diseases). There are definitely more cases of flu and/or RSV than Covid-19."
Doctors warn parents to watch out for any early signs of illness like a cold or cough, sore throat and hoarseness of voice, and ensure that the child gets the medical attention they need early enough to prevent it from worsening.
Like schools who are cautioning parents not to send their sick children to school, healthcare professionals are also underlining the same.
“Make sure that parents do not send their children to school when the kids are unwell. This will both likely exacerbate their child's condition and also result in more children falling sick. Please ensure that your child gets their flu shots on time, as this will help boost their immunity and reduce hospital visits,” Menen adds.
Dr Jamuna Raghuraman, Specialist Pediatrician, Medeor Hospital, Dubai, notes, “Children are more vulnerable, especially as respiratory illnesses are more common in the colder months. All three - the flu, Covid-19, and RSV - are respiratory viruses with very similar transmission modes. Respiratory illnesses are likely to increase during the winter as dry and cold conditions may weaken children’s resistance and increase the viral spread. We are seeing more cases of influenza and RSV among children in the UAE. Colds spread quickly among children as they are more likely to touch their eyes, mouth, and nose without washing their hands.”
She adds, “Parents must not panic. As most are mild to moderate cases, they are treatable. Ensure that children maintain respiratory hygiene. Provide healthy and balanced nutrition and make sure they get adequate hydration. Give vitamin supplements to children with deficiencies. Seek medical help when your child is sick.”
While doctors appreciate the revival of normalcy and lifting of curbs after the pandemic, they also point out that maskless interactions in schools are leading to a spike in cases for different kinds of viruses.
Dr Puneet Wadhwa, Specialist Pediatrician, Prime Hospital, says, “Many children are falling ill due to maskless interactions in school. The number of cases for flu or influenza is greater this year than what it used to be before the pandemic. We do see some Covid-19 cases as well. This is mainly because of the increased interactions, revenge travel, staycations, the festive season, and the removal of the mask mandate, because there isn't a compulsory requirement for it anymore.
This happens every year but for the last year last 2-3 years this wasn’t the case, because most people would wear the mask. Masks also act as a protection against other viruses.”
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