Düsseldorf A striking number of children in NRW are complaining of respiratory illnesses at the moment. In many daycare centers, half of the children are already staying at home. Experts suspect that the wave of colds is linked to the Covid pandemic.
In North Rhine-Westphalia, a noticeable number of children are struggling with cold symptoms such as coughs, sore throats and runny noses. The surge of colds is affecting many daycare centers, Klaus Bremen, state chairman of the German Daycare Association in NRW, told our editorial team. "I advise parents to definitely leave their children at home when they have clear cold symptoms - not only because of corona. By doing so, they protect the other children and help prevent a virus from circulating further."
The reason for the spread of colds is indirectly related to the pandemic. "Because the children have had far fewer infections due to the closures of schools and daycare centers, their immune systems are no longer used to anything," explained Axel Gerschlauer, pediatrician and spokesman for the Professional Association of Pediatricians and Adolescent Doctors North Rhine. For younger children, he said, the main fear is RS viruses, which are responsible for obstructive bronchitis and pneumonia, for example, and could endanger premature babies, infants and toddlers in particular. "Pediatric infection specialists are already warning of an earlier and stronger RS virus wave," Gerschlauer said. He expects the wave of colds to last until Easter, but unlike Bremen, he encourages parents to send their children to daycare centers even if they have "common respiratory infections. "If a child doesn't have a fever and is in good spirits, there's no reason to have them stay at home."
But many parents are uncertain of what to do because of the Corona Protection Order, which states that children must be observed at home for 24 hours if they have a cold without further signs of illness. Accordingly, if no further symptoms appear, the child can go to day care again. "There can be many reasons for a runny nose. It's important for parents to be open with educators and not just send their child to daycare with a runny nose," Bremen said. To help contain the viruses, he recommends that all parents and educators get flu shots. The Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians calls on the elderly and immunocompromised in particular to get vaccinated against influenza to prevent additional risks: "Those who take precautions against influenza not only protect their own health, but also that of many others. In this way, everyone can ensure that seasonal influenza does not also influence the pandemic," said Frank Bergmann, head of the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians.
Pharmacies in the Rhineland are expecting a tough winter: "Already, many people have colds. Pediatricians are also reporting many viral infections in children, and especially young children are often severely affected," Thomas Preis, head of the North Rhine Pharmacists Association, told our editorial team. The cause, he said, is often RS viruses, which usually appear only in winter. "This year, you see these infections even before the cold season begins." Last winter, he said, there was no flu epidemic and hardly any colds. "But every infection is a booster for our immune systems, and we've been lacking that for a year," Preis said. "Overall, we might be more sensitive to viruses now because of that."
But family physicians say they are prepared for waves of infection. "The primary care clinics are prepared. The usual everyday routines will return to doctors’ offices and the discussions about the unvaccinated will end," said Oliver Funken, head of the North Rhine GP association.
Orig. text: Antje Höning, Christian Schwerdtfeger