Kelly Stegen with her five-year-old daughter in hospital after she tested positive with the Delta variant of Covid-19. Picture: Supplied.
Kelly Stegen with her five-year-old daughter in hospital after she tested positive with the Delta variant of Covid-19. Picture: Supplied.

Parents cautioned to keep children safe from Covid-19 as virus continues to mutate

By Xolile Bhengu Time of article published Jul 28, 2021

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DURBAN - Medical insurer Affinity Health issued a statement cautioning parents on Wednesday, as they began the third term of schooling, to watch for a change in symptoms of Covid-19, as they could be less obvious than before.

Affinity said the Delta variant appeared just as parents thought they could finally relax about Covid-19. It said globally it had been widely reported that in future there would be virus mutations of the pandemic, and trends were showing the virus had adapted.

The insurer said it was too early to tell whether the Delta variant (also known as B.1.617.2) of Covid-19 produces different symptoms in children. Still, the variant appeared to be spreading quickly among all unvaccinated age groups.

It said as of June 14, the delta variant had reached 74 countries, just six months after its initial discovery in India. The scheme recently published figures suggesting that the Delta variant could be in at least 92 countries.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that the Delta variant was 55% more transmissible than the Alpha variant, which was around 50% more contagious than the original Wuhan virus.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases, a division of the National Health Laboratory Service, after performing genomic surveillance for Sars-CoV-2 confirmed that the Delta variant was becoming more dominant in Gauteng.

According to WHO, the symptoms of the Delta Covid variant differed slightly from the original virus strain. The new variant had a wide range of symptoms, including fever, a sore throat, runny nose, stomach pain, loss of appetite, vomiting, nausea, joint pain, and hearing loss.

Affinity said a cough was becoming a less common symptom, and the loss of smell was no longer listed in the top 10 common symptoms of contracting Covid-19.

It said while most children who contracted Covid-19 would have mild symptoms or even no symptoms, a small number would suffer severe disease. In some cases, children with the Delta variant have been hospitalised, suffered other complications, and required oxygen.

"It happens less than with adults, but the risk is still genuine," says Murray Hewlett, chief executive of Affinity Health. There is also some research suggesting there could be a risk of long Covid in children who had been diagnosed with the Delta variant."

The insurer advised parents to maintain non-pharmaceutical protocols of hand-washing, social distancing and sanitising while the country continued the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out programme, which has gained momentum.


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