Indian expatriate parents with children under the age of five have said they are relieved following India’s decision to do away with Covid-19 PCR testing for their kids. According to UAE-based paediatricians, the downward trend of Covid cases among the adult population in India could be one of the primary reasons for this decision.
Given the latest updates, agents have said that several Indian families who had refused to fly home due to the PCR testing requirement have renewed their travel plans.
On November 11, India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said children under five years of age are exempted from pre-and-post-arrival testing in India. However, if they are found to be symptomatic for Covid-19 on arrival or during the home quarantine period, they shall undergo testing and treatment as per protocols. The mandatory test for arrivals were announced in February this year.
Dr Manjunath M Nagalli, a specialist paediatrician at the Burjeel Specialty Hospital, Sharjah, said: “I’ve been discussing the decision from the Ministry of Health with my colleagues back in India. There is a downward trend in the number of adult cases, aged between 18 and 60 years. This category of people were the ones passing it on to the paediatric population.”
Dr Nagalli said the rate of infection in the paediatric population under five years is less than one per cent at the moment. “Moreover, the severity of the cases is declining, and the proportion of people getting vaccinated is also increasing,” he explained.
The doctor also said lesser to zero cases of multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) are seen in kids. “Eventually, children under the age of 10 may not need to undergo tests,” Dr Nagalli added.
Commenting on whether the risk of children contracting the virus from surfaces exists, the doctor said: “We must understand that Covid-19 transmits from active patients. The surface transmission is mostly a myth. The virus stays active on surfaces for not more than 30 minutes. However, droplets are the contagious ones,” stated Dr Nagalli.
The doctor also said parents must take all precautionary measures if a child is exhibiting symptoms. “Also, social distancing is mandatory when parents are travelling,” he added.
Dr Nagalli recommended collecting samples for testing from the oropharynx of the child instead of a regular nasal test if it needs to be done. “Children have small nostrils; the nasal opening is tiny. However, sample collectors can perform an oropharyngeal test on kids. Sample collectors can take the sample from the throat at the back of the mouth behind the oral cavity. If the child has Covid-19, the virus can be detected in this area of the nose and mouth,” he explained.