SINGAPORE - Children below the age of 12 are starting to make up the majority of Covid-19 cases that are admitted to hospitals, said Singapore's director of medical services Kenneth Mak on Friday (Jan 21).
The KK Women's and Children's Hospital and the National University Hospital have also reported that they are seeing more children with Covid-19 and non-Covid-19-related respiratory symptoms who require admission.
More children with Omicron infections are being admitted to hospitals for treatment, but do not require long stays or intensive care, Associate Professor Mak said at a virtual press conference held by the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19.
"Nonetheless, an increase in admissions fills up the beds in our paediatric wards that are dedicated for Covid-19 infected children. We're working closely with both hospitals to ensure there's sufficient bed capacity for the children," he added.
The situation is compounded by the increase in the number of children with non-Covid-19-related respiratory infections who also may require hospital care.
Based on local data of children below 12 years old who have been infected with Covid-19 from Oct 1, 2021, to Jan 16, 2022, Singapore saw 14,380 children who were infected with Covid-19, among whom four had severe infection needing either oxygen supplementation or ICU care. This corresponds to an incidence rate of 0.03 per cent, or 30 in 100,000 cases, Prof Mak added.
Fifteen children in this group developed multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). MIS-C is a condition where the child's immune system overreacts after a Covid-19 infection, typically two to eight weeks later. This represents an incident rate of 0.1 per cent, or 100 per 100,000 cases, which is higher than that reported in some other earlier studies internationally.
"The rate of severe Covid-19 infection in children or having a severe complication after Covid-19 infection is not trivial," said Prof Mak.
"It's important for us to note that while infections in children are generally less severe than in adults, infections are not mild."
The children who need oxygen treatment or ICU care range from less than one year old to nine, all of whom were unvaccinated. Under the national vaccination programme, three out of four of them would have been eligible for vaccination, he said.
"This reinforces the need to better protect our children against Covid-19 and the risk of a bad outcome. We've launched our vaccination programme for these children between five and 11 years of age, and we have seen a good take-up of vaccines so far."
Steady rise in infections among kids
The number of children infected with Covid-19 has risen steadily over the last week.
Children aged below 12
• 312 cases were reported on Jan 20.
• 120 cases were reported one week earlier on Jan 13.
On Jan 20
• 43 were admitted into hospitals and Covid-19 treatment facilities.
Based on local data
• 14,380 children were infected with Covid-19 in the period from Oct 1 last year to Jan 16 this year.
• Four children had severe infections needing either oxygen supplementation or care in the intensive care unit.
• This corresponds to an incidence rate of 0.03 per cent, or 30 per 100,000 cases.
• 15 children in this group developed multi-systemic inflammatory syndrome, which represents an incidence rate of 0.1 per cent or 100 per 100,000 cases.