More Sask. kids in hospital due to COVID-19



The number of children ending up in the hospital due to COVID-19 has risen during the fourth wave, according to a Saskatoon pediatrician.

“What stood out for me was seeing how much the hospitalizations are going up in the last month or so,” Dr. Ayisha Kurji told CTV News.

On Thursday, during a virtual physician’s town hall event, doctors heard Saskatchewan has seen more COVID-19-related deaths in children than Ontario despite having a fraction of the population.

Three Saskatchewan children under the age of 12 died early in the pandemic, according to Kurji.

While the number may seem small, according to data shared during the town hall, it makes up 16 per cent of COVID-19-related pediatric deaths in Canada, in a province that represents three per cent of the nation’s population.

“I think it’s also important to remember that these are still children, whether they have comorbidities or complexities in their lives, they’re still children and any child who dies for any reason is devastating,” Kurji said.

She helped lead a presentation during the town hall looking at the impact of the pandemic on children.

According to the presentation, more than 15 pediatric COVID-19 patients were in hospital as of the week of Oct. 11 – a steep increase compared to the previous two weeks where the number of cases hovered below 10.

While childhood deaths related to COVID-19 are fortunately rare, Kurji still finds the recent increase in hospitalizations concerning.

“Knowing that the cases in kids are going up, knowing that the number of kids in hospital is going up, it’s something we need to think about,” she said.

The number of pediatric hospital patients began surging in late August as the fourth wave took hold, according to data presented the town hall.

Kurji said the biggest pediatric age group in hospital is zero to four, followed by 12 to 17-year-olds. She said “not as many” five to 11-year-olds have been admitted.

Kurji said that transmission in schools is up compared to this time last year. However, roughly 80 per cent of transmission is happening outside of school.

During a COVID-19 teleconference on Friday, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said that cases in kids under 12 now represent a third of new coronavirus cases in Saskatchewan.

He said most cases are linked to households, where kids spend the bulk of their time.

“The one thing we need to do is, everyone who’s eligible for vaccination, get vaccinated. Whether you’re a parent, family member, school staff, daycare staff — that will protect children under 11 and especially children under five who won’t be eligible for vaccines in the near future,” he said.

“When you surround children with vaccinated people transmission will not happen.”

Shahab said any time a child ends up in hospital, it’s “a serious matter.”

“We need to do everything we can to prevent any hospitalizations in children,” Shahab said.

“We’ve had three deaths. That’s three deaths too many.”

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