SINGAPORE - There have been 367 cases of Covid-19 among children below the age of 12 here, accounting for 0.6 per cent of all local infections to date, Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary told Parliament on Tuesday (Sept 14).
Of these cases, 172 had the Delta variant of the coronavirus.
No infected child here has developed severe illness requiring oxygen supplementation or intensive care, Dr Janil added, and none has had prolonged symptoms of Covid-19, or what is informally known as "long Covid".
He was responding to Dr Tan Wu Meng (Jurong GRC), who had asked for figures on children here diagnosed with Covid-19, and Mr Yip Hon Weng (Yio Chu Kang), who had asked how children here will kept safe from the virus before a suitable vaccine is made available to them.
Mr Yip had also asked whether the Ministry of Health (MOH) is monitoring the trend of "long Covid" symptoms among children, and whether adequate resources are available to provide healthcare and emotional support for children who might have long Covid.
Dr Janil said the authorities will offer care to all patients who have prolonged symptoms of Covid-19, especially if they need support from different clinical teams.
He added that the authorities are also mindful that there may be more children infected with Covid-19 in the future as the number of cases in the community rises.
"We will ensure that these children receive appropriate care if their illness is more severe," he said.
Of the 367 paediatric Covid-19 cases here, 158, or 43.1 per cent, were between seven and 12 years old. Meanwhile, 76 cases, or 20.7 per cent, were aged five to six, 83 cases, or 22.6 per cent were aged two to four, and 50 cases, or 13.6 per cent, were one year old or younger.
Dr Janil said global data has shown that a very low proportion of children with Covid-19 experience severe illness compared with adults.
In Israel, 0.7 per cent of infected children required intensive care.
This proportion was 0.6 per cent in France and 0.3 per cent in South Korea.
However, there is evidence that infected children with underlying medical conditions such as congenital heart disease, obesity, diabetes, asthma or immunosuppression might be at increased risk of severe illness.
So far, effective safe management and surveillance measures have kept children here safe, particularly in large settings where children congregate, such as pre-schools and schools, Dr Janil added.
Parents and family members should get vaccinated to reduce the risks of becoming infected and transmitting Covid-19 to children, he said.
Meanwhile, immunocompromised children and their family should exercise additional precautions such as avoiding crowded places and minimising the number of visitors to their homes.