'Long Covid can affect kids' cognitive ability' - RTHK
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'Long Covid can affect kids' cognitive ability'

2022-05-14 HKT 12:01
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  • 'Long Covid can affect kids' cognitive ability'
A paediatrician on Saturday voiced concerns about the lasting health effects in children who have recovered from Covid-19, warning that their cognitive ability could be affected.

Speaking to reporters after attending a radio programme, Mike Kwan, a consultant of paediatric infectious diseases at Princess Margaret Hospital, said a tenth of some 130 recovered kids who visited him are suspected of having long Covid symptoms, including memory and concentration problems, headache, and shortness of breath.

According to overseas studies, he said the chances of recovered patients getting long Covid could range from 10 to over 80 percent.

Kwan also noted that around 30 children have experienced a multisystem inflammatory syndrome – a rare but serious condition that appears to be linked to the coronavirus.

"Both are quite new diseases to us and both are due to the result of the cytokine storm. As you know, the cytokine storm can actually damage many organs, like the brain, the lungs, the heart," Kwan said.

"We actually don't know the long-term consequences of the cytokine storm. So this is why, on one hand, we advocate the vaccination of children and hope they can [be] protected against the Covid infection. On the other hand, we are having a long-term follow-up on these children to understand more about the diseases, and also try to know how we can help these children."

The paediatrician added that he's worried about outbreaks in schools, as the current inoculation rate of 71 percent among kids aged three to 11 is too low.

"We really worry that there might be another outbreak – the sixth wave – within the school environment at this moment. This is why the school teachers and students, they're required to perform the RAT (rapid antigen test) before the students and teachers go back to school every day. This can help to avoid them [bringing] back the virus into the school environment," he said.

Kwan stressed it is too early to stop requiring students and staff to test themselves daily before heading back to school for face-to-face classes.