Children confirmed with Covid-19 infection who are asymptomatic or with mild symptoms need to be put under self-isolation at home rather than being isolated at a hospital, an expert said.
Kim Jong-hyun, president of the Korean Society of Pediatric Infectious disease, raised the question of whether all children with Covid-19 need isolation at healthcare facilities in a paper published in the Journal of Korean Medical Science on Thursday. Kim also is a professor of the Department of Pediatrics at St. Vincent’s Hospital of the Catholic University of Korea.
As of Thursday, Korea had 13,938 confirmed cases of the disease and 297 deaths. The number of pediatric patients with Covid-19 stood at 1,016 – 240 among those aged between zero and nine, and 776 among those aged between 10 and 19. There has been no reported case of a child dying from the disease.
Professor Kim noted that Korea has classified Covid-19 as a “Class 1 infectious disease,” and confirmed patients must be admitted to a hospital under the Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act. Depending on the severity of the disease, the confirmed patients are sent to hospitals or residential treatment centers.
Kim admitted that isolation was an unavoidable measure for controlling infectious diseases, especially emerging infectious diseases.
“However, adverse psychological effects that entail such advantages of effective infection mitigation should not be neglected,” he said.
Kim went on to say that a high percentage of children with Covid-19 do not have symptoms or have mild symptoms and that children need relationships with others to grow and have a high dependency on their parents.
“In particular, when a child below primary school age is placed in an isolation unit at a healthcare institution, it creates a situation requiring an uninfected stressful adult guardian to be isolated together to take care of the child,” he said.
The professor emphasized that children and parents need psychological and emotional support because they have to be separated from each other.
“To minimize these disadvantages in children, home isolation should be adopted as early treatment sites like many other countries,” Kim said.
Given the recovery processes of respiratory viruses, he suggested avoiding policies that delayed returning to society after isolation to fight Covid-19. In asymptomatic patients, including children, using test-based strategies for discharge may cause unnecessarily long separation, Kim warned.
He urged the government to shift the hospital-isolation-first policy to providing an isolation environment for pediatric patients, to help them recover without emotional and psychological distress.
Asymptomatic patients or those with mild symptoms do not require hospitalization. They can “manage their illness at home under close medical observation,” Professor Kim added.
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