In a setback to various State Governments’ planning to open schools post Diwali, the Centre on Tuesday said children can be spreaders or super spreaders. The observation came following reports of at least 315 active cases among children in Mizoram, prompting the Northeastern State to close down the schools.
Talking to reporters here on Tuesday at a press briefing, Dr. Balram Bhargava, DG of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said, “Children were thought to be protected but we now have some evidence which states that children can be spreaders and even super spreaders.”
He was replying to a question about the Mizoram decision to close down the schools after 315 school students were found to be infected with the virus.
The Mizoram Government closed all schools from October 26 after a number of Class 10 and 12 students, who had been attending classes since October 16, tested positive for coronavirus.
When asked if the children were suffering from Kawasaki disease, he said in negative and explained that “This (Kawasaki) is a rare condition and common among males. Kawasaki disease is an auto-immune disease that affects children who are less than 5 years of age. It is less common in India. I don’t think we have had any experience of Kawasaki with Covid-19 in India so far.”
He further said overall the figure in India is that below the age of 17 years, only 8 percent are found to be Covid-19 positive, and below the age of 5 years, that figure would be much less.
While school students found Covid-positive have been probably first of such kind instance in the country on record, a study carried out by researchers from the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI), Johns Hopkins University and the University of California Berkeley in collaboration with public health officials in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu showed that children and young adults have more propensity to transmit novel coronavirus, especially within households.
Yet some other studies suggest that kids could be asymptomatic, act as silent carriers, shedding the virus for weeks at a stretch, an observation that is likely to put the schools and authorities in a dilemma as they plan to open the schools.
The Centre has already allowed schools to re-open for Class VI to 12 with strict implementation of the Standard Operations of Procedures (SOPs) so that students and teachers can come to school and carry out the teaching process in a safe environment.
Reference: The Pioneer