Children hospitalised with COVID had comorbidities

- Health Ministry, warns of more “aggressive” form of coronavirus circulating

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Four of the children who have been hospitalised after they were infected with COVID-19 also had underlying comorbidities, according to a recent statement from the Ministry of Health.

A comorbidity, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), refers to the presence of one or more additional diseases or disorders in the same individual. For example, an individual who is affected by COVID-19 is said to have a comorbidity if that individual also has an underlying condition such as diabetes or hypertension.

On Friday, during his daily COVID-19 update, Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony said that healthcare workers were treating four young children who had been hospitalised after they began displaying the more severe symptoms associated with COVID-19.

The Health Minister also related that since March last year, only about 1,567 cases out of the more that 20,000 confirmed COVID-19 infections have been children aged zero to 14 years.

Later that day, the News Room was able to confirm that a total of seven children were hospitalised at the National infectious Diseases Hospital at Liliendaal, Georgetown and that three of those seven children were receiving treatment in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit (ICU). This ICU treats those patients who are severely ill and who usually have difficulties breathing on their own.

The ministry’s statement said that on Friday, when the Health Minister made the disclosure, that was the first time the country had four hospitalised COVID-19 patients. That statement did not indicate which of the four children have underlying conditions, however.

“We have always sought to caution people that the COVID-19 virus is transmissible across all age groups. In children, the disease is usually mild and often asymptomatic. However, in rare cases, children can become seriously ill and need hospitalization and intensive care,” the Ministry of Health stated.

As the minister highlighted in Friday’s COVID update, this statement also drew attention to one of the possible adverse outcomes associated with infections in children. This has been termed multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States, this condition results in different body parts- including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs- becoming inflamed.

“MIS-C can be serious, even deadly, but most children who were diagnosed with this condition have gotten better with medical care,” the CDC stated.

While noting that this has not been seen in Guyana, Dr. Anthony had urged parents and caregivers to ensure that the COVID-19 safety measures such as wearing a mask, social distancing and frequent sanitisation are adhered to.

In Guyana, more than 20,300 people have been infected with COVID-19 since March, 2020. Among the total detected cases so far, the Ministry of Health highlighted that children represent about seven per cent of the cases.

“Even though Guyana has recorded children testing positive for COVID-19 in the past, as did every single country in the world, there is a big difference in recent weeks in Guyana,” the ministry stated.

The ministry later added: “The recent more aggressive cases in adults and now some children underline the caution the Minister and the Ministry have been vigorously making the last several months that there is a more aggressive form of COVID-19 virus circulating in Guyana.”

In April, Advisor to the Ministry of Health, Dr Leslie Ramsammy stated that Guyana is now facing a third, more deadly wave of the dreaded coronavirus, which is rapidly spreading across the country and attacking the younger, adult population. Since then, there has been an exponential increase in the number of COVID-19 deaths.

The Health Minister, subsequently, stated that based on the health profile of the infections recorded locally does indicate that there is a changing virus circulating in the country. He, however, stated that Guyana has still been unable to prove whether any of the known strains, or variants, of the SARS-CoV-2 virus are in the country due to a lack of genetic analysis.

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