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No Fear No Favour

Masks Not Recommended For Children Below 5 Years, Says Revised Guidelines.

Written by Shivangi Chawla

Use of antivirals or antibodies is not recommended for people less than 18 years of age, irrespective of the severity of Covid infection. If steroids are used, they should be stopped within 10 to 14 days, subject to clinical improvement, the government said. In the ‘Revised Comprehensive Guidelines for Management of COVID-19 in Children and Adolescents (below 18 years)’, the health ministry also said that masks are not recommended for children aged five years and below.

Those aged 6-11 years may wear it depending on the ability of the child to use a mask safely and appropriately under the direct supervision of parents, it said. Those aged 12 and above should wear a mask under the same conditions as adults, the ministry said.

The guidelines were reviewed by a group of experts in view of the current surge that is mainly attributed to the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, which is also a variant of concern. The available data from other countries suggests that the disease caused by the Omicron variant is less severe. However, there is a need for careful watch, as the current wave evolves, the ministry said. It categorized cases as asymptomatic, mild, moderate, and severe.

According to the guidelines, COVID-19 is a viral infection and antimicrobials have no role in the management of uncomplicated COVID-19 infection. In asymptomatic and mild cases, antimicrobials are not recommended for therapy or prophylaxis, the ministry said. In moderate and severe cases, antimicrobials should not be prescribed unless there is clinical suspicion of a superadded infection, the ministry said. The guidelines stated that steroids are not indicated and are harmful in asymptomatic and mild cases of COVID-19.

They are indicated only in hospitalized severe and critically ill COVID-19 cases under strict supervision, the guidelines said. Steroids should be used at the right time, in the right dose, and for the right duration, they stated. Steroids should be avoided in the first three to five days since the onset of symptoms as it prolongs viral shedding, the guidelines stated.

As far post-COVID-19 care is concerned, the guidelines stated that children with asymptomatic infection or mild disease should receive routine childcare, appropriate vaccination (if eligible), nutrition counseling, and psychological support on follow-up. In addition to the above, parents or caregivers of children, who suffered moderate to severe Covid, during discharge from the hospital should be counseled regarding monitoring for persistence or worsening respiratory difficulty and explained the indications for bringing the child back to the facility, the guidelines stated.

These guidelines are dynamic and will be reviewed and updated, on the availability of new evidence, the ministry stated.

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