Silvia Pires – State of Minas
posted on 05/18/2022 10:08
(credit: Tulio Santos/EM/DA Press)
Children between 1 and 9 years old are the group with the highest incidence of hospitalizations for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in Belo Horizonte, according to the epidemiological bulletin of the Municipal Health Department. The data triggers an alert for parents, as the age group includes children under 5, who still cannot receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The expression SRAG refers to a set of symptoms, when the patient presents with fever, dry cough, headache, muscle aches and breathing difficulties, among others. Several respiratory diseases can progress to a severe acute syndrome, such as pneumonia, asthma and COVID-19 itself.
According to the Municipal Health Department, between January and May this year, 1,358 cases of SARS were reported in children under the age of 12. The data is partial until this Tuesday (17/5), however, the number is already 3.8% higher than the previous year, when 1,308 cases were recorded.
With falling temperatures, people tend to spend more time indoors and with poor ventilation, which promotes the transmission of respiratory diseases. The Municipal Health Directorate has reported that the Urgent Care Units (UPA) already have a greater demand for care, mainly for respiratory problems.
According to infectologist Alexandre Sampaio Moura, from Santa Casa de BH, the increase in viruses and colds may mask cases of COVID-19. “There’s no way to differentiate based on symptoms. People need to reinforce care in this time and, if they have symptoms, get tested to confirm whether or not it’s Covid,” he says.
Despite the low numbers, the onset of winter worries parents. With the start of the school year, schools have seen an increase in cases of flu and colds among children. In an interview with Estado de Minas, the Union of Education Workers of the Municipal Public Network of Belo Horizonte (Sind-Rede-BH) confirmed that they had received reports of an increase in certain respiratory diseases, but nothing that characterizes an epidemic. The occurrence, they say, is common at this time of year and also occurs among employees.
Respiratory diseases require special attention in winter. For Moura, the outlook for this period is not good. “We are already monitoring crowded health centers. COVID has become another one of those viruses that we have to be careful with in the winter. It is important to keep your distance, wash your hands and wear a mask”, he assesses. The vaccine, according to him, is the main form of prevention. “Everyone must do their part and be aware of the risk posed to the most vulnerable, such as children and the elderly,” he said.
Far from the target, the flu vaccination coverage is 26.9% in Belo Horizonte, according to a bulletin from the Municipal Department of Health, published last Wednesday (5/11). “The vaccine does not prevent transmission, but the more people who are vaccinated, the fewer hospitalizations we will have. This does not mean that you do not need to take care of yourself. Both vaccines, flu and Covid, are essential to ensure the health of the population, ”he adds.