These COVID-19 symptoms are more concerning for kids than the sniffles: B.C. doctor

VANCOUVER — When it comes to COVID-19 symptoms, there are some that parents of young kids should be more wary of, a B.C. doctor says.

Dr. Rhonda Low, a physician based in Vancouver, says sneezing and sore throats don’t necessarily mean parents need to sound the alarm or keep their kids at home. This comes more than a week after health officials suddenly changed screening requirements for students heading to class. 

“Talk about making parents nuts because kids have runny noses and sore throats all year, as soon as school starts,” she said about the old requirements on CTV Morning Live Tuesday.

Low says according to current data, kids under the age of 10 aren’t likely to have COVID-19 if they just have a runny nose. 

“The chance of them having COVID is only about seven per cent,” she said. “If a child has a sore throat, the chance of them having COVID is only about 13 per cent.”

The new checklist for schools says kids should stay home if they have fever, chills, a cough or shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting. But if they have a runny nose, a sore throat, headache, fatigue or body aches, they are no longer required to be absent. 

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, addressed the changes last week. 

“There are so many things that cause children to have one symptom that has nothing to do with an infection,” she said. 

“It’s a balancing act to make sure children are able to attend school as much as possible and minimizing the risk that they pose.”

Some of the symptoms that are still on the screening checklist are more concerning for young kids. 

“The most important symptoms that seem to indicate that we should get your child tested for COVID are a fever and a cough,” Low said. “And those two are present in about two-thirds of cases.”

And Low says new research confirms what health experts have understood since earlier in the pandemic: kids under 10 are less likely to become infected, even with similar exposure to COVID-19 as adults. 

“But the role of kids transmitting to others and adults is still not really clear,” Low said.  


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