No Mask For Kids Aged 5 & Under: Health Ministry

Bhubaneswar: Masks are not recommended for children aged 5 years and under, stated the revised Comprehensive Guidelines for Management of COVID-19 in Children and Adolescents (below 18 years) released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Thursday.

The guidelines further mentioned that children aged 6-11 years may wear a mask depending on the ability of the child to use a mask safely and appropriately under direct supervision of parents or guardians.

Children aged 12 years and over should wear a mask under the same conditions as adults. All should ensure hands are kept clean with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub, while handling masks.

The Ministry advised against the use of antivirals or monoclonal antibodies for children less than 18 years of age, irrespective of the severity of infection.

If steroids are used, they should be tapered over 10-14 days, subject to clinical improvement, while the use of anticoagulants has been revised.

COVID-19 is a viral infection and antimicrobials have no role in the management of uncomplicated COVID-19 infection, stated the guidelines. It mentioned that antimicrobials are not recommended for therapy or prophylaxis in asymptomatic and mild cases.

In moderate and severe cases, antimicrobials should not be prescribed unless there is clinical suspicion of a superadded infection.

Steroids are harmful in asymptomatic and mild cases of COVID-19 and should only be used in hospitalized severe and critically ill COVID-19 cases under strict supervision.

Steroids for treatment of Covid-19 should be done at the right time, in the right dosage, and for the right duration. They should be avoided in the first three to five days since the onset of Covid-19 symptoms because it extends viral shedding.

Self-medication of steroids must be avoided, the guidelines added.

For post-Covid-19 care among children, the guidelines suggested that for asymptomatic or mild cases, they should receive routine childcare, appropriate vaccination (if eligible), nutrition counselling, and psychological support on follow up.

In addition to the above, for children with moderate to severe COVID, at discharge from the hospital, parents/caregivers should be counselled regarding monitoring for persistence/worsening respiratory difficulty and explained the indications for bringing the child back to facility

Children who develop any organ specific dysfunction during hospital stay or subsequently should receive appropriate care.