SA’s Covid-19 child deaths rise to 10 – but they likely ‘had other serious illnesses’

Three children under the age of three and seven under the age of 19 have died from Covid-19 since the pandemic hit the country. More than 3,000 children have been infected with the coronavirus. Image: narvikk/iStock via AFP Relaxnews

Two more children have died from Covid-19 since Friday.

The latest statistics, released by the national department of health on Monday night, revealed that the 10th South African child to die from the virus was aged between 10 and 19.

According to the statistics, three children under the age of three and seven under the age of 19 have died from Covid-19 since the pandemic hit the country.

More than 3,000 children have been infected with the coronavirus.

Chief director of child, youth and school health at the national department of health, Dr Lesley Bamford, said children generally have a much milder disease than adults, and it is likely that a higher proportion of infections in children are asymptomatic when compared to infections in adults.

“We do not fully understand why almost all children have only mild disease. Most adults also have mild disease, but approximately 15% of adults with symptoms will develop more severe disease. Older adults and those with comorbidities like diabetes and heart disease are at higher risk of developing severe disease.”

Bamford said it was initially thought children would play a major role in transmitting Covid-19 to those around them.

“Recent studies suggest children seldom infect adults and other children. It seems most children and adults are infected by other adults. However, it is important to remember there is still a lot we do not understand about the disease.”

Prof Haroon Saloojee, of the University of Witwatersrand’s paediatrics and child health department, said children biologically contain coronavirus better than adults, are less likely to get sick if infected, have milder disease, are unlikely to die from Covid-19 and are probably less infectious than adults.

“In SA, the department of health reported eight deaths on June 24, three in children aged 0-9 years and five in persons aged 10-19 years. I am aware of four deaths in children who tested Covid-positive. Three were children with serious underlying conditions such as blood cancer, a severe heart problem and multiple metabolic pathologies.

“None of these deaths was likely to be primarily the result of Covid-19. Further, one newborn who died also tested positive, but likely died of a neonatal condition.”

BY NIVASHNI NAIR

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