Children under the age of 19 in South Africa have one in 75 000 (0.003%) chance of dying from Covid-19. This is much less than children under nineteen (one in 1,000) have the chance of dying from another disease or disorder.
This is what dr. Fiona Kritzinger, pediatrician and pediatric polmonologist in a private practice at the Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital, explained this weekend.
Education unions claim it is unsafe for learners and teachers to go to school as the number of Covid-19 cases in South Africa rises sharply.
Kritzinger explained that data support the assumption that fewer children contract Covid-19 than adults. “Children also seem to be less responsible for the spread of the virus in the community,” she explained.
According to the Department of Basic Health’s data, 10 children under the age of 19 died of Covid-19 by July 1st. This represents 0.3% of the total deaths nationwide. In comparison, 1 198 people (37.6%) died between the ages of 20 and 60 due to Covid-19 in South Africa.
According to Kritzinger, the majority of children who died from Covid-19 had ŉ serious underlying medical condition and she is not aware of a single healthy child who contracted Covid-19 at school and died.
“When a child catches Covid-19, there is a risk of becoming seriously ill and dying. However, the risk is far less than 1% of becoming critically ill or dying, ”she explained.
Kritzinger further pointed out that 6,000 children around the world died of flu in 2017. In 2018, 21,000 children in South Africa died of tuberculosis and in 2019, 142,000 children worldwide died from measles. This is despite the fact that there is a vaccine available for measles.
According to Kritzinger, the risk for children to develop Covid-19 is not such as to keep them out of school. Kritzinger further believes that teachers have a much greater chance of getting Covid-19 at a restaurant or their local shopping center than at school.
“The question is not whether there is a risk. The question is whether there is an unacceptably high risk. The answer is no. ”
She says children’s risk of getting sick at school must also be weighed against the physical and emotional consequences of keeping learners at home, which she says is much greater.
Kritzinger also pointed out that wearing masks and using disinfectants does not pose a health risk to learners and parents with peace of mind can send their children to school during this time.