Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | As the number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the country, over 92 children have been infected with COVID-19 in Uganda according to the ministry of health. This is about 2 percent of the of cases in the country which are nearing 5,000.
The infected children are aged between 0 and 12 years. All of them have been asymptomatic with very mild symptoms of the disease, according to health ministry officials. As of September 11,2020 43 of the children were females while 49 were male.
Dr Charles Olaro, the director of clinical services at the ministry of health says that the many cases involving children show that they are equally at risk as adults when it comes to getting infected with the disease.
He says majority of the children who have tested positive are contacts who have picked the disease from either parents or guardians who have tested positive.
While evidence shows that children play a minor role in the spread of the disease given few numbers recorded globally of infected children compared to adults, Olaro says that with such numbers, it’s important for all parents to make sure that children are protected.
“Parents need to make sure that their children wash their hands and use masks,” he said, adding that it is common for parents to wear a mask and leave the child.
According to epidemiologists, while children are susceptible to getting infected with the disease and spreading it, few children infected children are likely to progress to severe forms of the disease that might lead to death. Majority of them are tend to be asymptomatic with very mild forms of the disease.
Olaro says while children might not suffer from sever forms of the disease, they can spread it. This he says leaves elderly groups of people that are susceptible to severe forms of the disease at a risk.
“The danger we are most likely to face is of children who stay at home with elderly people most of whom are susceptible are testing positive,” said the doctor. “This means that we are likely to see more people aged 65 years and beyond falling sick and maybe even succumbing to the disease.”
With an increase in community infections, Dr Olaro says that more cases involving children are likely to be seen.
“This number is going to increase with community infections. Parents are leaving their homes to go to Kikuubo and they carry the disease back home to their unsuspecting children. With the spike in infections, the number of infected children will automatically increase too,” he said.
As a means to safe guard children from being infected with COVID-19, all schools in the country where closed in March and children sent back home. With the cases of infected children being reported now, health officials say that more needs to be done to protect children.
Dr Richard Idro,a pediatrician and also the president of the Uganda Medical Association says parents need to educate their children about COVID-19 so that they can protect themselves when parents fail to do the needful.
“Children need to know what the disease is and how they can protect themselves. They need to be taught how to wash their hands and also
also to avoid touching their eyes or poking their noses,” Dr Idro said.
According to health officials, these figures show that children need to take as much precaution as adults do to avoid contacting the disease.