Editorial: Kids as super-spreaders

Editorial Cartoon by Enrico Santisas

SEVENTEEN Metro Manila mayors are seeking expert opinion from the Philippine Pediatric Society after the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said local government units may decide to craft and enact ordinances that will allow children to go out to the malls, provided they are accompanied by their parents in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ).

Resolution 79 of the Inter-gency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases says only those between 15 and 65 years old can step out of their homes.

As we now get a whiff of the Christmas holidays and as family outings are likely planned, the same question will also apply in Metro Cebu. Should our cities allow children in malls? Our local officials must also look into what science has to say.

Recent studies have pointed out convincing indications that children are at the center of super-spreading or large-scale transmission.

A US study published in the Journal of Pediatrics show that children with Covid-19 show “significantly higher level of virus” in their airways compared to adults who are hospitalized for treatment. Children with Covid-19 who are asymptomatic showed a viral load that is even higher than critically ill adults.

The study looked at 192 children ages 0-22. Forty-nine were Covid-19 positive and another 18 had late-onset Covid-19-related symptoms.

Another study published in JAMA, a global network of medical journals, also found that children aged five and younger who developed mild to moderate Covid-19 symptoms had 10 to a hundred times more of the virus in their nose and throat than adults.

“This study provides much-needed facts for policymakers to make the best decision possible for schools, daycare centers and other institutions that serve children,” one of the study’s principal authors said.

The findings at once render inadequate the practice of taking body temperature as sole mode of monitoring to identify Covid-19 infection. The experts said schools must not rely on temperature alone; if not, disallow face-to-face classes as much as possible. They have warned against the reckless reopening of schools as children may bring the virus at home.

Princeton University also released its own findings after a large-scale study on super-spreading in two Indian states. Conclusion: Children are “efficient transmitters” of the virus.

It is in this light that we recommend to our local officials to just keep the provisions of Resolution 79 disallowing children out of homes even if Metro Cebu has a lighter version of the quarantine. Let us keep the holidays safe for the Cebuanos.


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