After stories online of children being turned away from Covid-19 treatment, the director of the Queen Sirikit National Institute of Child Health assurance that there are plenty of beds available for any kids that become infected with the virus. Despite anecdotal posts online, the director says the occupancy of children’s beds, as well as the infection rates of children, have not so far significantly increased.
Thai media has been reporting cases of parents trying to get treatment for their Covid-19 infected children only to be turned away at hospitals, prompting the Department of Medical Services to issue a statement instructing hospitals to always accept young patients first and then contact the department for any possible assistance they may need in housing or treating the child. They want to avoid the horror stories that have been shared by worried parents desperately driving from hospital to hospital trying to find treatment for their child.
The Institute director and the director-general of the DMS both agree that while there’s not a shortage of care for children now, it is likely that Thailand will see an increase and a higher percentage of overall infections in Covid-19 patients under the age of 12, as more and more people aged 12 and older have received vaccines and are less likely to get severely sick or die from a Covid-19 infection. Vaccination for children 5 to 11 years old is beginning in Bangkok though.
Authorities advise keeping antigen test kits on hand to test children when they experience flu-like symptoms like a cough, fever, or diarrhoea, as Covid-19 infections are likely to be milder in kids. A doctor should be sought immediately in the event of rapid breathing, loss of appetite, and fever up to 39 degrees Celsius. Also, children under the age of one should head to medical professionals immediately if they test positive for Covid-19.
The DMS director-general said that hospitals are obtaining Covid-19 medication Favipiravir in liquid form to prepare for a rise in child infections. Paediatricians will be placed at every hospital to evaluate how best to treat children infected with Covid-19. Hospitals in Bangkok are preparing 100 beds to handle the most critically infected children, while community isolation centres will also be fitted with a children’s area in preparation.
That said, the director-general urged parents not to panic, saying that many infected children will not need any hospitalization and that infections are likely to be mild and manageable. He noted that there were only 7 young children currently being treated for the most severe Covid-19 symptoms.
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