More kids are being admitted than during the early stages of the country entering the current fourth wave of infections
Children under the age of 2 account for about 10% of total hospital admissions in the omicron epicenter Tshwane in South Africa, according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.
More kids are being admitted than during the early stages of the country entering the current fourth wave of infections, although a similar trend occurred during the third wave when delta was dominant, said Waasila Jassat, public health specialist at the institute.
South African scientists were last week the first to identify the new variant now known as omicron, and while symptoms have been described as mild, the exact risk from the new strain is still uncertain. Governments across the globe stepped up travel restrictions in response, and the World Health Organization warned that the variant could fuel a fresh surge in infections.
“The very young children have an immature immune system and they are also not vaccinated, so they are more at risk,” said Jassat, who was part of developing and managing South Africa’s national hospital surveillance system for Covid-19.
She said that part of the increased rate of admissions may reflect extra precaution on the part of parents given the new concern about the mutation. A pediatric report due later this week should provide more information.
In Tswane, the municipality that includes the capital Pretoria, 52 children under the age of 2 diagnosed with the coronavirus have been admitted and one has died, Jassat said. It’s not yet clear whether they contracted omicron, currently the region’s dominant strain.