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South African Journal of Child Health

On-line version ISSN 1999-7671
Print version ISSN 1994-3032

Abstract

DANGOR, Z; NAIDOO, K D; SALOOJEE, H  and  MADHI, S A. Children caught in the long shadow of COVID-19. S. Afr. j. child health [online]. 2021, vol.15, n.4, pp.182-183. ISSN 1999-7671.  http://dx.doi.org/10.7196/SAJCH.2021.v15.i4.1950.

Despite the more transmissible delta variant being associated with higher rates of COVID-19 in unvaccinated adolescents, children have remained relatively spared from severe disease. Nevertheless, children are indirectly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which threatens to have far-reaching consequences. The effect of disruptions of seasonal patterns of circulation of respiratory pathogens on future immunity against such pathogens, childhood immunisation programmes, and HIV and tuberculosis treatment programmes poses a threat to the future wellbeing of children. Furthermore, the economic devastation caused by the pandemic, including an increase in unemployment, gives rise to numerous challenges, such as food insecurity, which is likely to worsen childhood nutritional status. Also, COVID-19 has ongoing effects on the mental wellbeing of children, driven in part by the interruption of schooling and other opportunities to socialise. An increase in psychological illnesses has manifested in children consequent to the stresses of the pandemic, lockdowns, caregiver deaths. In this article, we highlight the indirect effects of COVID-19 on children, and suggest solutions to mitigate against the long-term sequelae. A focused health, nutrition, education and child protection response is required from government and healthcare practitioners to safeguard the health and wellbeing of South African children.

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