‘Quite unwell’ two-year-old taken to Adelaide hospital after positive Covid test in hotel quarantine | Health

A toddler who flew into South Australia from overseas is now in hospital after testing positive to Covid-19 while in hotel quarantine with his family.

South Australia’s chief public health officer, Prof Nicola Spurrier, said on Thursday that “this little bub is quite unwell, and has been taken to the Women’s and Children’s hospital”.

“The family have tested negative at this stage,” Spurrier, who is a paediatrician, said.

Spurrier said because children under 12 are not required to wear masks on flights there is concern about other passengers on board also testing positive.

“We’re just a little bit more anxious about that particular flight, and as a result we will be implementing some additional testing for anybody else that was on that flight, and they will be having a day three test as well,” she said.

“My thoughts are with this family today. It’s not nice having a little one, only two, who is very unwell.”

Authorities are expected to provide more detail about the two-year-old boy, including when he flew to South Australia, later on Thursday.

Children can develop Covid-19 though many have no symptoms, and those who become unwell usually experience milder symptoms, which is why they appear to be less likely to spread the virus. But in rare cases children have developed serious complications and died.

But some countries grappling with Covid-19 variants of concern, including India, Brazil and Indonesia, are reporting increasing numbers of children are being admitted to hospital with Covid-19.

A theory as to why children generally appear less susceptible to the virus than adults is that they have less of a type of receptor known as ACE2 in their respiratory tract. These receptors are a key pathway for the entry of the virus that causes Covid-19 to enter the cells. Fewer ACE2 receptors, it is theorised, means fewer opportunities for the virus to take hold.

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During the first wave of the pandemic, it was generally thought that both absence and reduced number of these receptors in children was generally protective. But some more virulent strains seems to bypass the apparatus required for entry and evade the immune system better, which some infectious diseases doctors speculate may be behind an increase in both numbers in children and severity in infection.

Spurrier said a man in his 60s, a hotel quarantine case announced on Wednesday, had since been admitted to hospital. He is currently in a stable condition.

Spurrier and the South Australia health minister, Stephen Wade, also announced on Thursday that the state government would step in to boost the government’s aged care vaccination rollout by offering the Pfizer vaccine for anyone aged 50 and above.

“We’ve chosen Pfizer because of course, you can have the two jabs within just three weeks between,” he said. “So they’ll be fully vaccinated a lot faster, although we’d say for those healthcare workers in the aged care facilities have already had AstraZeneca, they’ll need to continue on with that course.”

The recommended gap between AstraZeneca doses is 12 weeks.

It makes South Australia the latest state to announce it will be taking measures to speed up aged care vaccination, with an outbreak of Covid in Victoria that included two aged care homes adding to urgency across the country to protect the most vulnerable. It prompted Victoria and Queensland to announce aged care vaccination blitzes.

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