Editorial comment: When our young are impacted

Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Health and Medical Services Dr James Fong stresses a point during the joint press conference between Ministry of Tourism and Police. Picture: RAMA

Health Ministry permanent secretary Dr James Fong made an important point yesterday.

We agree the death of a 10-day-old baby and two children aged eight and 13 who were tested positive for COVID-19 is a sad reminder of what the virus can do in our communities.

The deaths of these three children, he said, were recorded between January 8 and January 22.

By vaccinating and maintaining COVID safe measures, Dr Fong said, the vulnerable ones among us are protected.

“We know that severe disease is rare in children, but this risk increases should they have significant underlying health conditions,” he said.

“We have mentioned in the past that the vaccines are 80 per cent protective against severe disease and death, and not 100 per cent.

“As such, if community transmission is high enough, rare outcomes will become more frequent,” Dr Fong added. Members of the public have been urged to be aware of the symptoms of severe COVID-19 disease.

“Early presentation to a health facility, when severe symptoms were present, were critical protection measures that we should know and act upon.

“The severe symptoms to look out for are having trouble breathing (shortness of breath or difficulty breathing), ongoing chest pain, severe headache, confusion, inability to stay awake or wake up, pale, grey or blue-coloured skin, lips or fingernails, worsening weakness, coughing blood.”

There will no doubt be questions asked about the changing scenarios.

The fact that children are dying is quite worrying. It is a major concern. We are told most of the children affected were suffering from underlying causes. When we reflect on the second wave, this wasn’t as evident.

We may wonder what happened? Perhaps our response to the virus has changed! Dr Fong talks about community transmission in this instance. It seems many Fijians are now becoming complacent.

They are shrugging aside basic safety protocols, and are playing with fire.

They seem to be living in denial and a false sense of security. Many Fijians appear to have forgotten about physical distancing. They have forgotten about washing their hands often with soap and water. We hope this latest revelation by Dr Fong will serve as a reminder for us all about the dangers of COVID-19.

It spares no one! Now that our very young are being infected, and some dying, we should be sitting up and taking note. We know what to do.

We know why we must follow safety rules. Our challenge is doing what should be done.

So let’s protect ourselves and our loved ones!

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