Other countries have seen an increase in hospital admissions for children due to this variant, with many wondering whether it is safe for them to report to school again.
Data from the Ministry of Health shows that more children are infected in the current wave than in previous ones.
More than 500 children in the last week infected compared to the last (fourth) wave when about 124 became infected with the virus.
“We’re not saying the number is huge because other age groups are recording higher numbers, but if you compare this wave to the last one, since we are seeing the children, the numbers are higher, ”says Dr. Walter Otieno, a pediatrician based in western Kenya.
Dr. Otieno, a lecturer in the Department of Pediatrics and Child Health at the Maseno School of Medicine, also noted that despite the high case numbers, there are fewer serious.
“Many could test positive yes, but we don’t have many deaths and intensive care admissions in the populations mentioned, “he said.
Dr. Otieno spoke to the nation to answer some of the critical questions parents have asked in the school media.
Are there? a need for teachers to also provide evidence that they are fully vaccinated after schools reopen?
(Omicron) is very communicable and infects even those who are already are fully vaccinated, although the severity is mild. Teachers must be fully vaccinated so that they can resume personal teaching in schools.
He also urged the Ministry of Health to ensure that schools are in place and that the Classrooms properly ventilated.
“If necessary, all windows should stay open … and open spaces for children to wash their hands are set up,” he said.
Some schools in the US, UK and South Africa, especially in areas with high transfer rates, are postponing reopening until the situation is contained.
But Dr. Otieno said that the virus is here and since Omicron is contagious but less pathogenic it needs further learning.
“You lost a lot of time last time the schools were Closed for almost a year. We should have them back in class, but make sure they adhere to the protocols, starting with the teachers themselves, ”he said.
Should the Students get tested before they get back to school?
Omicron could show up days after the test, he said, and therefore there is no need to test negative before they return to their classrooms.
The ministry must support the schools in implementing the necessary measures.
” The number of students in the country is huge and with this approach it may not be easy for some parents to pay the exam fee (in addition to pay) the school fees, ”he said.
Should children aged 15 and over be vaccinated?
“Definitely yes. Studies have shown that vaccines reduce the severity of this virus, and who knows what variant we’ll have in the future. The virus is mutating and we could have a worse variant or a milder variant, ”he said.
Different variants have different presentations, he said.
“If the vaccine is available and the government has approved that children aged 15 and over can be vaccinated, why not, let’s protect our children,” said Dr. Otieno.
Although Omicron is more contagious than previous variants, he says, vaccinated children have a big advantage.
The government has rolled out a vaccination plan that stipulates that adolescents aged 15 and over are specially vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine. However, the World Health Organization recommends starting ages 12 and up.
Cabinet Health Secretary Mutahi Kagwe noted that Pfizer is the only WHO-approved vaccine for the younger population.
“Given the emergency approval from the Pharmacy and Poisons Board and the WHO recommendation, I instruct that we vaccinate Pfizer young people aged 15. The estimated population of this group is… 5 , 7 million, “said Mr. Kagwe.
Now that (children) have access to vaccines, it is good that they are vaccinated, said Dr. James Campbell, Professor of Pediatrics and Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Maryland in the US.
“They used to have no access to a vaccine, but now there are enough and there have been even conducted studies in the population that have proven vaccines to be safe and reduce the risk of hospitalization, ”he said.
Should students wear face masks in school and in the classroom?
It has been proven that masks offer protection, Dr Otieno said, and whether vaccinated or not, they should always put their masks on in public, crowded places, including schools.
” With the mutation of the virus, your mask, if won correctly, will definitely protect you. Reducing infections is critical to preventing new variants that could prolong the pandemic further, ”advised Dr. Otieno.
What types of masks should children wear now?
Dr. Otieno asked the parents to buy three-layer surgical masks with adjustable nasal wire and KN95 masks, which in his opinion are more helpful, but more expensive.
“The manufacturer now has three-layered ones Making masks for children, this is the best mask and not the cloth mask … This is one of the best prevention measures, “he said.
He also advised schools to have activities to avoid the crowd, such as sporting events and even physical education classes.