Variation of Omicron brings huge numbers of children under 5 to hospital in South Africa

“High transmission capacity” Omicron variant A top medical adviser to the South African government says the coronavirus that is making its way into South Africa is sending a large number of children under the age of five into hospital.

The alarming development raises the prospect of a new global battle cycle against the virus, due to the new variant has spread to dozens of countries.

During a disturbing virtual press conference, government adviser Waasila Jassat, speaking of the worst-affected areas of Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg, said: “It is clear that in Gauteng, the increase is daily. The week we’re seeing in cases and enrollments is higher than what we’ve seen before. We have seen a significant increase [in hospital admissions] across all age groups but especially among those under 5 years of age. ”

She added: “The prevalence of the disease among people under the age of 5 is currently the second highest, second only to those over 60. The trend that we are seeing now, which is different from what we have seen before, is a specific increase in the number of hospitalizations in children under 5 years of age.

“In the past, we have always seen children who are not severely affected by the COVID epidemic, do not have to be hospitalized as much. In the third wave, we saw more children under 5 and teenagers, 15-19 years old, being hospitalized, and now, at the start of this fourth wave, we’ve seen a pretty decent increase. strong in all age groups, but especially in the age group under 5 seconds. ”

Jassat presents charts that clearly show how alarmingly children under the age of 5 are being hospitalized.

She said, for example, in the city of Tshwane Metro, more than 100 children under the age of 5 were hospitalized with COVID during the first two weeks of the new fourth wave (November 14-27). In the first two weeks of the country’s third wave, in May of this year, less than 20 children were admitted to the hospital.

In a follow-up Q&A session, asked about the unusual number of children being hospitalized, Jassat said she suspects there may be an “immunity gap” and that children’s lack of vaccinations may be to blame for the number. this.

With adults getting vaccinated more and more, she said, it’s children who “get sick and need to be hospitalized.”

She added that pediatricians at Tshwane hospital had told them, anecdotally, that “all” children aged 12-18 who were admitted to the hospital were unvaccinated, even though they were eligible. “And children younger than 12 years old, who are not eligible for vaccination, none of their parents, except for three, get vaccinated.”

She says this shows “the value of vaccination when adults protect children in the home.”

Health Minister Joe Phaahla said just over 42% of adults had received at least one dose of the vaccine in South Africa.

Another expert, epidemiologist Michelle Groome, told the virtual meeting that the daily number of people hospitalized in the worst-affected parts of Gauteng province had jumped to 78 from 19.

Groome has sounded the alarm about the “rapidly increasing” average number of cases in seven days, from 332 on December 1 to 4,814 today.

“If you look at the slope of this increase, you can see that we are actually seeing an unprecedented increase in the number of new cases in a very short period of time,” she said. , really just climbing.”

She said the virus’s reproduction number — a measure of how many people infect each person — rose to a staggering 2.33 in Gauteng.

“This is the highest we’ve seen since the start of the pandemic,” said Groome.

Phaahla said the number of daily cases has spiked to 9,000 per day, up from “2,465 new cases last Thursday when this variant was announced to yesterday’s high of 11,535.”

“This variant is really highly transmissible, even among vaccinated people,” he said.

This comment echoes the findings of a paper published Friday, which has not been peer-reviewed, washington articles report, claims Omicron is three times more likely to cause reinfection than previous variants. NS Post Statistical analysis of approximately 2.8 million positive coronavirus samples in South Africa, 35,670 of which were suspected of reinfection, led the researchers to conclude that the Omicron mutation has a ‘significant capacity to avoid immunity from previous infection.’

Phaahla tried to strike an upbeat note by saying that he believes the new variant is more contagious “but less severe” than previous variants.

He said that while those who are vaccinated are getting infected, a disproportionate number of people who end up arriving in hospitals are unvaccinated and the South African hospital system is dealing with it at the moment and not still possible.

However, his remarks can be treated with caution as hospitalizations tend to prolong the duration of an infection by several weeks, and the press conference left little doubt that the country is affected by the Omicron variation.

He said the country’s COVID test positive rate had increased to 22% from less than 2% in mid-November.

Phaahla also expressed “indignation and disappointment” at the travel bans imposed on South African countries, saying they “undermine international cooperation and solidarity.”

The United Nations has previously said such flight bans are a form of “tourist racism” and could backfire as they would prevent countries from reporting new variants. Variation of Omicron brings huge numbers of children under 5 to hospital in South Africa


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