B.C. newborn discharged from hospital while elementary-aged child still in ICU with COVID-19

Two B.C. children, one of them a newborn, were in intensive care units due to COVID-19 on Monday, but the province's health minister says the infant is now at home.

On Monday afternoon after completing a conference with reporters, Adrian Dix tweeted a chart showing the vaccination status and ages of those in critical care that included one patient less than 28 days old and another between the ages of 10 and 12; there was no further comment or explanation.

93% of those in ICU due to COVID-19 today in BC were not fully vaccinated.

See full breakdown: pic.twitter.com/VsnCeFdIsA

— Adrian Dix (@adriandix) September 13, 2021

“I'm happy to report that the infant in ICU has been discharged healthy and that’s good news,” said Dix when CTV News asked about the children Tuesday.

A communication staffer later confirmed that the infant has been fully discharged from hospital as of Tuesday afternoon but didn’t explain how the newborn could go from needing critical care to being at home literally overnight.

“We have is a fairly low barrier for critical care," insisted Dix, who reiterated that children have been at a lower risk of severe illness from COVID-19 compared to adults. “Overall we've had a very low rate of hospitalization amongst children and youth since the beginning of the pandemic and that continues to be the case now."

A CTV News analysis of data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control found the number of minors hospitalized with COVID-19 doubled after April 3. Until then there were 52 kids under 10 ever hospitalized with COVID, but by the end of August it was 104. For those between the ages of 11 and 19, it went from 40 to 78. This week last year, there had been just three kids under 10 in hospital with COVID-19 and two youth aged 11 to 19.

“The highest percent positivity has consistently been in the 10-14 year-olds, since (the first week of August),” note the authors of the latest report.

CTV News asked B.C. Children’s Hospital to confirm the newborn and elementary school-aged child were treated by their pediatric specialists, but they said their privacy regulations prevented any discussion of those cases; the Ministry of Health wouldn’t even say which health authority the children are in, citing privacy legislation.

Last month, an 11-week-old baby in Kelowna was hospitalized overnight with COVID-19 symptoms but recovered at home.

WARNINGS FROM ONE OF CANADA'S TOP DOCTORS

While B.C.’s top health officials have repeatedly insisted children are at low risk of severe illness and only catch COVID in high numbers when there are many cases in their communities, one of Canada’s top doctors is urging them to prioritize the precautionary principle and do everything possible to minimize pediatric cases.

"The impact of COVID on children goes beyond just the hospitalization – of course, severe illness and death is the worst case scenario – but long COVID is one of them and we're just starting to understand what that looks like on children," said Dr. Katharine Smart, president of the Canadian Medical Association.

The Yukon-based pediatrician pointed out that about two per cent of children infected with the Delta variant will be hospitalized, with about a third of those spending time in ICU.

"(The Delta variant) is very efficient at spreading through populations of unvaccinated people and of course in our country the biggest group of unvaccinated people is under the age of 12," said Smart, advocating for masks for all school children and greater transparency about COVID cases in schools. “I think a lot of parents are finding it distressing to think there could be a case of COVID in their school or classroom and they're not aware of it."

But provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry believes it’s more anxiety-provoking to be told about cases and has decided parents may not be notified, since public health would now be treating COVID-19 like other infectious diseases.

"We will not be doing the notifications to school if there's been a single exposure,” she said on Sept. 2. “They'll be doing an assessment as we do for every communicable disease and every individual who is at risk will be notified.”