CECC details warning signs of COVID-19 in children and adjusts hospital policy

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Taipei, April 21 (CNA) Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Thursday released a list of symptoms that could signal a child has developed a severe case of COVID-19, as well as adjusted its triage criteria for COVID-19 patients in the country.

Parents should contact health authorities if a child or adolescent experiences any of the following symptoms while in quarantine: fever that lasts longer than 48 hours; a fever of more than 39 degrees Celsius associated with cold sweats; lethargy, shortness of breath, chest tightness or chest pain after the fever has subsided; persistent vomiting, headache or stomach pain; and a period of 12 hours or more without eating or urinating.

In these situations, health authorities will arrange for the child or adolescent to see a doctor virtually or in person, said Lo Yi-chun (羅一鈞), deputy chief of CECC’s Medical Response Division.

If a child or teen has seizures, falls unconscious, has difficulty breathing, a sunken chest, white or purple lips, oxygen levels below 94%, or cold extremities associated with mottled skin and sweating cold, parents should call 119 and wait for an ambulance or take the child directly to hospital.

In principle, people should contact local health authorities before going to hospital as people in quarantine are monitored by the “digital fence system”, which uses cellphone signals to determine if they have left their place. quarantine, Lo said.

In emergency situations, however, people can notify local health authorities after arriving at the hospital, Lo said.

The new guidelines come after a 2-year-old boy died of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the youngest patient to die from the disease so far in Taiwan.

The boy’s parents were highly critical of the health authorities’ initial response when their son’s condition deteriorated and they tried to take him to hospital.

Revised sorting criteria

Also on Thursday, the CECC adjusted its criteria by which COVID-19 patients will be admitted to designated hospitals, quarantine centers or hotels, or may self-quarantine while recovering.

According to the new guidelines, patients from the following groups will be admitted to hospital: people classified as having moderate or severe cases of COVID-19, aged 75 or older, on dialysis, pregnant women 36 weeks or older , infants under 3 months old who have a fever, and infants 3 to 12 months old with a fever over 39 degrees Celsius.

Meanwhile, government-run quarantine centers and designated hotels will house patients who have mild symptoms or are asymptomatic, and who also fall into one of four categories, Lo said.

The categories are: people between the ages of 70 and 74 who are self-sufficient or accompanied by a carer, between the ages of 65 and 69 and living alone, who are less than 36 weeks pregnant or whose residence does not meet the quarantine conditions at home, Lo said.

All other patients who have mild or no symptoms will be quarantined at home, Lo said.

He added that patients whose residences meet the requirements for home quarantine but who would normally be admitted to government quarantine centers or hotels can also self-quarantine at home, provided they are cleared to do so by medical staff.

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