Public hospitals in Hong Kong have so far treated close to 1,000 children who were infected with Covid-19.
Dr Mike Kwan from Princess Margaret Hospital said on Tuesday that although the majority of children with Covid experience mild or no symptoms, some develop serious complications and suffer from prolonged problems after they recover.
He said an 11-year-old boy who was otherwise healthy suffered from serious inflammation throughout his body and multiple organ failure after contracting the virus.
The boy fought for his life during a two-week stay in intensive care, Kwan said.
The doctor said his medical team sought advice from experts in the UK who had experience in dealing with the condition known as paediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome.
“It was quite a traumatic experience not only for the parents but also for the healthcare professionals taking care of him because every day we didn’t know what the prognosis would be. We discussed with overseas experts to gain their experience to try to manage this patient,” he said.
Kwan urged people not to underestimate the risk posed to children by Covid-19, noting that the lung functions of some of his young patients were impaired even after they recovered.
“Some children previously could walk nine to 10 flights of stairs with no problem. But now they have difficulties just walking two to three flights of stairs. They have decreased in the exercise tolerance,” he said.
The president of Hong Kong College of Paediatricians, Winnie Tse, meanwhile, said vaccinating children and adolescents is a safe way to protect them.
“If we compared the risk of immunisation, globally there have been millions and millions of vaccines being given,” she said.
“The figures show that severe allergic reaction occurred only in five cases among one million doses. So the risk of receiving vaccination is far, far less than having an infection,” she said.