Majority of children admitted for COVID-19 at PGH critical, severe— health experts

Aleta Nieva Nishimori, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 07 2021 10:52 AM

MANILA— The pediatric COVID-19 ward at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) remains at full capacity, with many children admitted with complicated cases, the hospital's spokesperson said Saturday.

“Ang message sanang gusto naming sabihin sa public ay nagkaka-COVID po ang mga bata. Kadalasan po mild lang usually ang manifestation nila. Kaya lang po dahil very transmissible at contagious [ang Delta variant] at sabi nila 'pag nakuha mo 'yan mataas 'yung viral load, may chance po na minsan 'yung mga bata severe disease ang makuha nila,” said PGH spokesman Dr. Jonas del Rosario.

(The message we want to tell the public is that even children can get COVID. Mostly they have mild symptoms. However, because the Delta variant is very transmissible and contagious and has a high viral load there is a chance that children get severe disease.)

Del Rosario said that their pediatric COVID-19 ward is an 8-bed facility. The ward saw around 7 to 8 patients the past two weeks.

“Napansin din namin medyo complicated kaso nila,” Del Rosario said.

(We observed that they have complicated cases.)

Del Rosario said they have children admitted with complex underlying diseases but tested positive for COVID-19. Other child patients developed pneumonia and needed to be intubated.
 
“Meron din kaming 2 bata na nagkaroon ng multisystem inflammatory syndrome in childhood. Ito po ay dahil sa COVID at parang kumplikasyon ng COVID at nangyayari ito after a few weeks ng COVID at naaapektuhan ang iba-ibang organs,” he said.

(We also have 2 children who had multisystem inflammatory syndrome in childhood. This is because of COVID, complicated by COVID and this happened a few weeks after COVID and affected other organs.)

Del Rosario said this is reflective of the very transmissible and contagious characteristics of the virus. 
 
“It’s not surprising to note na may mga batang ngayon reportedly na-aadmit o nalalaman naming may COVID,” he said.

(It is not surprising to note that there are now children reportedly admitted or found to have COVID.)

Pediatric infectious disease expert Dr. Anna Ong-Lim also shared the same observations as Del Rosario. 
 
"Ngayon, out of the 8 mas marami d'yan 'yung critical and severe na medyo nakakabahala din. This is actually consistent with the observation nung katangian ng virus na mas mabilis siyang magpakalat at mas marami siya sa katawan ng tao. Kung mas marami kang kalaban mas matindi ang sakit na dadapo sa'yo,” Lim said.

(Now, out of the 8 patients at the ward, many are critical and severe, that is already alarming. This is actually consistent with the observation on the characteristic of the virus that it's highly transmissible and has a high viral load. If you are infected with the virus with a high viral load then you can get a severe disease.)
 
This is not the first time that the bed occupancy at the PGH COVID-19 ward for children became full. 

“Nung time na nagkaroon ng surge nung March at last year din napuno din ang aming COVID wards so reflective 'yan ng tinatawag nating surge o mataas na transmission. Ang kaibahan lang ngayon parang observation namin may sakit sila kasi nung last time 3 ang naka-intubate, 4 doon kailangan ng supplemental oxygen,” Del Rosario said.

(We also experienced this when we had a surge in March and last year when our COVID wards became full so this is reflective of the surge or high transmission. The only difference is that we observe now that they have underlying illnesses, the last time, 3 had to be intubated and 4 needed supplemental oxygen.)

Del Rosario clarified that they do not want to sow fear by sharing the situation at their pediatric COVID ward. 

“It's more of to warn our parents, our guardians, mga tao na nag-aalaga sa kanila, mostly sa kanila nanggagaling 'yung transmission. Sila ang nakakahawa sa kanilang mga anak. Mag-ingat po sila at kung pwede sana magpa-vaccinate na 'yung hindi pa nagpapa-vaccinate para lalo pong ma-lessen ang chance na mahawa natin ang ating mga anak,” he said.

(It’s more of to warn our parents, our guardians, those who take care of them because the transmission of infection mostly comes from them. They are the ones infecting their children. Please take care and get vaccinated to lessen the chance of infecting their children.)

Lim said children live with family members who are seniors, people with comorbidities, and essential workers. If these adults are vaccinated, they are not only protecting themselves but also the children in their households.

“Napalibutan na ng bakunado. 'Yun ang tinatawag na cocoon strategy,” she said.

(They are surrounded by those who are vaccinated. You call it the cocoon strategy.)

Lim said that as COVID-19 cases in the community rise, the number of people infected with coronavirus from different age groups, including children, also increases.

“Kung mas maraming adults ang magkakasakit, makikita rin natin ang pagdami ng kaso sa bata,” she said.

(If more adults are getting sick, we will also see an increase in cases of children getting sick.)

Meanwhile, Del Rosario said PGH’s ICU is at full capacity but that they could still accommodate patients at the ward. Currently, the PGH COVID-19 ward has 169 patients out of 225 bed.

“At least mga 40 to 50 na puwede pang i-admit, 'wag lang po sa ICU dahil wala pong paglalagyan sa ICU,” he said.

(We can still admit about 40 to 50, just not at the ICU because its full.)