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Doctor Says There May Be More Filipino Children With COVID-19 Than What Is Reported
PHOTO BY Shutterstock/Narith Thongphasuk38
  • More Filipino children are sick with COVID-19 than what government records reflect, a pediatric infectious disease specialist told SmartParenting.com.ph.

    But Dr. Anna Lisa Ong-Lim, also a fellow of the Philippine Pediatric Society, said this discrepancy should not be a cause for alarm since this is only because suspected pediatric COVID cases in a household with other cases are already considered as positive.

    This means they get the same treatment and management as the rest of the household. It also spares the child from the trauma of a swab test.

    “If it’s a child who’s part of an entire household where one or many tested positive, maybe there’s no point testing the child,” Ong-Lim said.

    “But if he’s the only one, you don’t know if COVID or not… if symptoms overlap with COVID, [then you] have no choice but to get [him] tested.”

    Ong-Lim was responding to a query from Smart Parenting in relation to concerns in Brazil and elsewhere that more children are dying of COVID-19 without getting tested and, possibly not getting proper care.

    “A shockingly high number of children and babies have been affected by the virus,” said Dr. Fatima Marinho in a report published by BBC News. She works as a senior adviser for international health NGO Vital Strategies.

    Her yearlong research in Brazil that ended just this March 2021 showed that COVID killed some 852 children zero to 9 years. Around 518 of the fatalities are babies under a year old.


    “But Dr. Marinho estimates that more than twice this number of children died of COVID,” the BBC report said.

    Marinho’s research showed that “there were 10 times more deaths by unexplained respiratory syndrome than in previous years.”

    In the Philippines, the Philippine Pediatric Society recommends homecare for children exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms but not mandatory testing.

    Ong-Lim assures that underreporting of pediatric COVID cases does not mean the children do not get sufficient medical care. Nor does it affect the policy-making processes of government.

    “COVID cases, adult or kids, should always be brought to a healthcare professional.,” Ong-Lim said, noting it is the child’s pediatrician who will decide if homecare is adequate or if hospital confinement is necessary.

    “Contact your pediatrician and establish the baseline evaluation and what to watch out for,” she said, adding that teleconsult at these times is “perfectly acceptable.”

    She underscored that children, no matter what the ailment, should be adequately alert and taking in enough food and liquids. Lethargy is a red flag that warrants an emergency call to the pediatrician, Ong-Lim warned.

    Even the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends homecare for mild cases but with the close monitoring of a physician.

    Department of Health data available today, April 21, 2021, show that pediatric cases represent around 6 percent of total cases, down from around 9 percent last year. However, the numbers will show a marked increase in the number of COVID cases in children — from 10,873 cases in August last year to 88,588 cases now.

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    Ong-Lim doesn’t describe the increase as alarming. She explained these numbers correspond to the surge of COVID cases especially in Metro Manila where entire families get infected.

    Of the total number of COVID cases in children, 303 patients died.

    The age group 15-19 years have the biggest number of positive cases while the age group 0-4 years have the least.“Babies under 1 year old and children with certain underlying conditions may be more likely to have severe illness from COVID-19,” said a report by the Center for Disease Control.

    Children regardless of age may be susceptible to severe COVID if they have underlying conditions such as asthma or chronic lung disease, diabetes, Genetic, neurologic, or metabolic conditions, and obesity among others.

    More information about COVID in children can be accessed here and here. Click here for a guide on what to prepare if every family member and you get the virus.

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