Rising cases of COVID-19 in children a concern to B.C.'s top doctor - InfoNews

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Rising cases of COVID-19 in children a concern to B.C.'s top doctor

In this file photo, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister of Health Adrian Dix provide an update on COVID-19 to the media.
Image Credit: Province of British Columbia
August 11, 2020 - 8:00 AM

The uptick of COVID-19 cases among children in the U.S. has not escaped Dr. Bonnie Henry’s attention.

“It does not surprise me and it concerns me immensely,” B.C.’s top doctor said, Aug. 10. “I will also say that that's still a very low number.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association has reported more than 97,000 U.S. children tested positive for the coronavirus in the last two weeks of July. That is more than a quarter of the total number of children diagnosed nationwide since March.

The report pulled data from 49 states, most of which defined children as younger than 19 years old.

As of July 30, there were 338,982 cases reported in children since the pandemic began, which was a relatively small portion of the total number of coronavirus cases nationally, only 8.8 per cent. As of April 14, children made up just two percent of cases nationwide, according to the data.

Dr. Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer, said B.C. will be presenting some information on how COVID-19 is moving its way through B.C.’s children in the days ahead, however, the virus is being tracked similarly this side of the border.

“The percentage of children who were ill, and who get this virus is still much less than their respective proportion in the population and we see the same thing here,” she said.

“It reflects what I've been saying, that… transmission in school settings are a reflection of what's happening in your community. And we know that in many communities across the U.S. there's still very high levels of community transmission with thousands of cases a day in many communities.”

When schools open without having safety measures in place, she said, they can become a place where transmission happens widely.

Dr. Henry said supporting B.C.'s classroom system will require everyone to do what's needed to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“We need to be continuing to do what we're doing to keep our numbers low to keep that transmission low so that it is safe in all of our communities and we can open our schools and support our children,” she said.

That said, if cases start to crop up once school gets underway, Dr. Henry said there’s a system in place to deal with it.

“If it happened where there was exposures to many other children, an assessment of risk is done and a case investigation is done by public health,” Dr. Henry said. “There will be an investigation of every single case and then, anybody who is at risk will be removed from the environment and self-isolating."

So the worst-case scenario would be that a 60-person group would be asked to self-isolate.

There will be some flexibility in case something like that happens.

“It's much more likely that the unit of learning is still going to be classroom-based, and those will be smaller units,” she said. “So the most likely transmission is going to be in a much smaller group of people, if that happens the risk of transmission is in a much smaller group of people.”

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