A new report has indicated a 90% increase in the number of Covid-19 cases among children in the US in the last four weeks, as the reopening of schools nears.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association has published a state-level data report showing a 90% increase in the number of Covid-19 cases among US children over the past four weeks.
Surge of Covid-19 cases among children
In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Committee on Infectious Diseases vice-chair Dr. Sean O’Leary pointed out that coronavirus cases in children should be taken seriously.
Dr. O’Leary said: “It’s not fair to say that this virus is completely benign in children. We’ve had 90 deaths in children in the US already, in just a few months. Every year we worry about influenza in children, and there are roughly around 100 deaths in children from influenza every year.”
He mentioned that various factors may have contributed to the recent surge in coronavirus infections in children in the past weeks, including increased testing, increased movement among children and a rise in infection among the general population.
Dr. O’Leary explained: “When you see a lot more infections in the general population, you’re going to see a lot more infections in children. We all have to take this virus seriously, including taking care of our children.”
Severe symptoms and deaths still rare
The new AAP analysis made use of data provided by state health departments of 49 states, New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam.
The report indicated that there have been 179,990 new Covid-19 cases among US children between July 9 and August 6, with the total number of cases as of August 6 at least 380,174.
The data showed that currently, severe symptoms are still rare among children infected with Covid-19 and total hospitalizations were between 0.5% and 5.3%. In terms of deaths, children were just between 0% to 0.4% of all Covid-19 deaths.
According to the report, 19 states reported zero child deaths while in other states that tracked the details, only 0% to 0.5% of all child Covid-19 cases resulted in death. However, experts say that these numbers may increase as the number of cases increases and more children with autoimmune disorders and other risk factors become exposed to the virus.
Dr. O’Leary said: “As case counts rise across the board, that is likely to impact more children with severe illness as well.”
In a news release, the AAP called for an effective testing strategy so that communities could make the right decisions in terms of school reopening.
AAP President Dr. Sally Goza said: “In areas with rapid community spread, it’s likely that more children will also be infected, and these data show that … It is up to us to make the difference, community by community.”
“To protect everyone in our communities — children, teens, and older adults — we must follow all the public health measures that we know can contain the virus. This includes physical distancing, wearing cloth face coverings, washing our hands, and avoiding large gatherings,” O’Leary said.
William Haseltine, a former professor at Harvard Medical School, pointed out: “Children ages zero to five can be “highly infectious to other people. It turns out they have a thousand times more virus in their nose than you need to infect, so they’re very, very contagious.”