Sporadic COVID cases among schoolchildren natural: DPH

‘Collective responsibility if they get COVID, but chances of severity low’

Taken aback by the Telangana government’s decision to reopen schools and other educational institutions from Wednesday, scores of parents sought to know who will take responsibility if their children contract COVID-19 and end up in hospitals. When this question was posed to Director of Public Health G Srinivasa Rao, he said it would be “collective responsibility”.

“Everyone has to follow COVID protocols. Nothing will happen until we follow them,” said Dr Srinivasa Rao. A section of parents said they would rather have their child skip a year of academics, but will not put their life at risk.

At a press conference held at the State Health campus on Wednesday, the senior health official presented a number of cases among children, chances of fatality among them, and other reasons. “Even if children get COVID, chances of the infection turning serious and hospitalisation among them is low. Fatality among children is almost zero and recovery rate among them is high. The number of cases among children aged one to 10 years is 3% of the total, and it is 10% for the 10 to 20-year age group. So, the number of cases among children and adults up to 20 years in the first and second wave is just 13%,” Dr Srinivasa Rao explained.

The State’s COVID caseload stands at 6,58,376 since March 2 last year. The population of the State is around four crore.

Stating that there are around 50 lakh to 60 lakh children pursuing primary or secondary education, he said that the remaining 3.4 crore people have to be on the move to attend tjobs, business, or other purposes. The DPH added that the movement of children is not restricted to home, and that they have been going out into their colonies.

Several parents opined that it would be better if children attend schools after they were vaccinated against COVID-19. Currently, only those above 18 years are eligible for the jab. The senior official said that a vaccine for those above 15 years might be available some time this month, and another one for children above two years in October.

Before Telangana, neighbouring Andhra Pradesh reopened schools in mid-August. Citing regular detection of five or more cases among school students, Dr Srinivasa Rao said that sporadic cases are natural and that parents don’t have to worry about it.

He reiterated that 95% of the teaching and non-teaching staff across the State were vaccinated. Heads of educational institutions were directed not to allow staff who are not immunised. Chances of the virus springead from the staff to children is, therefore, low and masks are compulsory, he added.

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