Children under 12 have had only mild infection: Chan Chun Sing

Children under 12 in Singapore infected with Covid-19 have had only a mild infection and none has needed intensive care or oxygen support, said Education Minister Chan Chun Sing yesterday.

As for inoculation against the coronavirus, he said the expert committee on Covid-19 vaccination is monitoring ongoing vaccination trials for children under 12, and will make recommendations when it is ready.

Outlining in Parliament the steps taken to keep children safe, Mr Chan said schools will continue to fine-tune safe management measures as Singapore moves towards dealing with Covid-19 as an endemic disease.

Mr Chan was responding to Ms He Ting Ru (Sengkang GRC), who had asked about the assessed risk level for children under 12 who cannot yet be vaccinated, as Singapore moves back to phase two (heightened alert).

Mr Chan said Covid-19 infections in other countries have so far shown that the disease outcome is less severe for children than older adults and the elderly.

Even with the Delta variant, children under 12 in Singapore so far have had only a mild infection, he said, and none of them has required oxygen support or admission into an intensive care unit.

Mr Chan said managing Covid-19 involves managing risks and balancing trade-offs.

The past few months have given the authorities more confidence that a better balance can be struck by taking a more targeted approach to ring-fence cases and their close contacts when they arise, he added.

He said: "The alternative (of) full home-based learning on a prolonged basis comes at a cost to the learning... of our young and it takes a toll on their mental wellness, and places additional stress on the educators, parents and students."

Ms He also asked what has been done to address the concerns of parents who feel that their young children might be vulnerable to the disease.

Mr Chan said there is a need for any measures taken to be sustainable.

This is because it is uncertain how long the disease will be around and when the right vaccine will arrive, he added.

Future mass testing capabilities that are less intrusive can be another tool for more activities to be opened up, he added.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2021, with the headline Children under 12 have had only mild infection: Chan Chun Sing. Subscribe