Hospital wards are filled with CHILDREN sick with Covid in South Africa as 'super mutant' Omicron surges, says doctor

HOSPITAL wards in South Africa are filling up with sick kids that have Covid as the "super mutant" Omicron strain continues to sweep through the country.

A South African doctor has said more kids are being hospitalised with severe Covid symptoms ever since the Omicrom variant took hold in the country.

Dr Rudo Mathivha, head of ICU at Chris Hani Barahwanath hospital, has said the shift in demographics means hospitals are again rapidly filling up with patients.

She said her hospital is reportedly admitting around 5 to 10 kids at a time.

Dr Mathivha told how a 15-year-old died after rapidly deteriorating following contracting the virus, and that a 17-year-old has been placed in ICU on a ventilator with Covid-related pneumonia.

It's not immediately clear if they both had the Omicron variant.

Speaking with the South African Broadcasting Corporation, the worried doctor said: "The situation is pretty concerning. This is not something that we had observed with the first, second and third wave.

"In the past, the children used to get a Covid infection … and it wouldn’t really put them down, it wouldn’t really send them to hospital in big numbers to be admitted.

"We are now seeing them [children] coming in with moderate to severe symptoms needing supplemental oxygen, needing supportive therapy, needing to stay in hospital for quite a number of days."

She added: "What really broke my heart yesterday was a 15-year-old previously well child, no illness.

"Two day history of fever, comes into the hospital, tests positive for Covid and literally deteriorates in front of our eyes and nothing, no supportive therapy that we could do could help him.

"And we lost that patient … this is the first incident [here] of a child who had no comorbidities and nothing existing before who has passed from Covid that I am aware of."

She warned the hospital was filling so fast with patients that it may not be able to cater for any more children.

She said: "This is going to be a major problem for us. Our hospitals were not built to house a lot of children. Because naturally children do not get that sick in multitude.

"We will not be able to accommodate them, and I’m not saying this to make people panic.

"I am saying this to say, all these preventive measures we take to interrupt transmission of Covid let them be applied to the children as well."

Kids 12 years and under are not eligible for a jab in South Africa, which is currently in the grips of another Covid wave.

On Saturday, South Africa's government said the Omicron variant is disproportionately affecting children under five, rubishing the notion put forward by experts that the strain was "mild".

Government adviser Waasila Jassat told reporters in Johannesburg, where the virus is spreading widely, that there had been "quite a sharp increase" in hospital admissions "across all age groups but particularly in the under fives."

"The incidence in those under five is now second highest, second only to those over 60," she said.

New data on Friday revealed that children under two now make up 10 per cent of hospital admissions in South Africa, has reported.

Jassat said kids seemed "more at risk" of Covid but said it wasn't yet clear in the surge in admission was liked to Omicron.

She said: "When you look at the numbers of admissions by age, what we normally see is a large number of admissions in older people.

"But in this early resurgence in Tshwane, we are seeing most admissions in the 0-2 age group. And we are seeing a large number of admissions in the middle ages, sort of around 28 to 38."

She said this could be because kids under 12 cannot be vaccinated and because parents are more concerned about the new variant that they're more likely to present their child to A&E at the first signs of illness.

"The very young children have an immature immune system and they are also not vaccinated, so they are more at risk," she said.

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