WATCH: Even children are getting sick as hyper-infectious Delta variant sweeps across the globe
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The Delta variant is driving a new Covid-19 surge in South Africa and health professionals have confirmed that it is responsible for almost all new cases.
The hyper-infectious variant is spreading across the country, and is the reason behind the level 4 lockdown restrictions in South Africa.The Delta variant, also known as B.1.617.2, was first identified in India.
The symptoms of a Delta infection may also differ from typical Covid-19 symptoms and make it easier for people to unwittingly spread the virus – they more closely resemble a common cold and include headaches, a runny nose and sore throat. This variant has created panic among parents as this one seems to affect children more than other variant.
Experts say while children are unlikely to get seriously unwell or die from Covid-19, evidence increasingly suggests a significant number go on to experience lingering symptoms for months after their initial infection, even if the case was mild. While there are no exact numbers, research suggests a significant number of children could be these Covid “long haulers’.’
WATCH: Hyper-infectious Delta Variant sweeps partially vaccinated into latest Covid-19 wave
Kelly Stegen, the mother of a five-year-old, posted her daughter's Covid-19 experience on Instagram with the hope of spreading awareness for parents.
“Ella was admitted to Life hospital with "Covid pnemonia" developing on one lung. We all tested positive – Paul and I as well … and our poor nanny Lucy, too.
“Ella started showing symptoms on Thursday morning only.
She was 100% fine all week and woke up burning and with a headache, no appetite, very lethargic and just not herself. I knew something was wrong. We sent her to be tested at 7.30 am. Her oxygen was already at 90 when I took her to the doctor at 3.30. And her heart rate was extremely high.
“Thursday night I sat in her room. My heart filled with worry and I calmed myself and let every cell in my body calm. Your children are 50% you on a cellular level so I knew whatever I was feeling and experiencing emotionally she would feel. I did a healing meditation and prayer over my child and I prayed for healing over her lungs.
“She was in a terrible way – no appetite at all and burning up badly. She has been pumped with so many drugs and prodded and X-rayed – I am so proud of her.
“We have spent two nights in the Covid ward. Probably the two scariest days I could possibly experience as a mother. But I was not afraid. God has been with me.
“I am exhausted and my chest is extremely sore. I need rest too but I just want my baby to be better.
“There was not even a bed for me on night one. I did not sleep a wink! Night two I got a sleeper couch. Yesterday we woke up and got her X-ray results. It was Covid bronchitis. (I knew what I had done had helped) call me crazy! During the course of the day she got her appetite, humour and colour back. I was so relieved; I knew we would be okay. Waiting for the paed this morning and hopefully getting discharged to be monitored at home.
“Let me tell you all that this is no joke.Stop socialising. Stop going anywhere and stop taking this lightly! Stop braaing with your friends. Stop play dates! Please – you don’t want to be where I am. And I have not been socialising at all and both my kids are off school for 4 weeks already,” shared Stegon.
She also advises parents to be alert. “Please, please moms and dads, if your child wakes up feeling funny or sick follow your gut! Take them to be tested. I acted just in time – this could have been a lot worse. I've heard of an 18-month-old fighting for its life with Covid. It's just too scary for words.”
Highly vaccinated countries like the UK and Israel have prolonged or reintroduced restrictions to combat its rapid spread and regions in Europe and Australia have gone back into lockdown.
Professor Tim Spector, who runs the Zoe Covid Symptom Study, says catching the Delta variant can feel "more like a bad cold" for younger people. But although they may not feel very ill, they could be contagious and put others at risk.
Previously reported Covid-19 symptoms people should look out for are: cough, fever, loss of smell or taste. However, Spector’s team have noticed changes. "Since the start of May, we have been looking at the top symptoms in the app users – and they are not the same as they were," he says.
Fever remains quite common but loss of smell no longer appears in the top 10 symptoms, Spector says.
"This variant seems to be working slightly differently," he says.
"People might think they've just got some sort of seasonal cold and they still go out to parties and they might spread it to six other people.
"We think this is fuelling a lot of the problem.
"The message here is that if you are young, you are going to get milder symptoms anyway.
"It might just feel like a bad cold or some funny 'off' feeling – but do stay at home and do get a test."
According to Forbes, a potentially even more concerning variant, Delta Plus, has started to gain ground around the world. As with the original Delta, it was first identified in India, where it has swiftly been designated a variant of concern.
Evidence is scant, but it’s possible the new mutant could be even more transmissible and better at avoiding the body’s immune system. It is not yet clear if the vaccines are effective against this variant.