Covid-19 and Sick Children

Many of you will be aware that 11-month-old Ava Hazlett was recently taken to Queen Mary Hospital suffering from respiratory distress and then admitted to ICU. Her parents were asked to leave the hospital and told that after discharge from ICU, Ava would have to remain in an isolation room until she tested negative, the first test being conducted on day 7, visited only by nurses in full PPE as necessary.

Several of our patients have reached out to support this family and Ava’s parents would like to thank everyone for all the help they have received. They are doing everything they can to persuade the authorities to change their position so they can reunite with Ava.

www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/health-environment/article/3167974/hong-kong-mother-crying-begging-after-hospital

Our paediatricians and all the other Central Health staff are naturally extremely concerned, not only about Ava and her parents, but also about the trauma experienced by any family where children are separated from their parents at a time of illness or crisis. We also believe that there is a significant risk that if this practice continues, child fatalities could occur as parents may delay taking their children to hospital during critical periods when intervention could save lives.

Whilst omicron is normally mild, a very small number of children will become sick enough to be assessed in hospital. We realise many of our parents are understandably very worried, so our paediatricians have introduced an urgent video consult service which will also operate out of hours to support families who are managing unwell children at home. If you need to access this service, please email childconsult@centralhealth.com.hk Our paediatric nurses and paediatricians will be monitoring requests and will be prioritising cases according to urgency. In case of emergencies please continue to follow our emergency advice.

It is always preferable for children to see their paediatrician or family doctor in person if they are unwell. For children who are unwell but with low risk of covid ie no positive contact we would prefer to see them in person in the clinic so long as they and all their family members have had a negative rapid antigen test (RAT) done at home the same day as their appointment. We will only make RAT tests mandatory if we feel it is in the best interests of our patients and the only way we can keep the clinic running safely. We would however like to encourage everyone to do RAT tests at home before their clinic appointment on a voluntary basis to help keep everyone, patients and staff covid free.

All our staff have daily RAT tests before coming to work. We are increasing our infection control, testing and triaging procedures proportionately as cases rise.

Rapid antigen tests are available to our patients from our pharmacy if you are unable to buy them online.

As the Omicron situation is changing rapidly, we are providing daily Covid-19 updates on our website, which also provides access to our latest information and advice. Please check our website regularly as any changes to important information, arrangements to access the clinic and who is required to have a negative RAT test prior to their appointments will be updated daily.

Latest information includes how to safely manage symptomatic children at home and when to take them to hospital, as well as a vaccine update and our opinion as to whether child vaccination should be considered given that this may reduce the need for children to be taken to a hospital emergency room.

We are copying a link to an article published in the South China Morning Post today suggesting an urgent strategy change to help mitigate the current crisis in already overwhelmed public hospitals. If any of you have personal stories to tell about your own experiences managing your families physical and mental health during this extremely difficult period, we would be grateful if you could share them in the comment section.

Hong Kong can beat Covid-19 by playing to one of its strengths – its private medical sector.
www.scmp.com/comment/opinion/article/3167838/hong-kong-can-beat-covid-19-playing-one-its-strengths-its-private

Central Health Team