KOLKATA: All children needing hospitalisation for acute respiratory infection (ARI) will have to be tested for Covid and all children needing high oxygen support will have to undergo a viral panel test, apart from tests to rule out dengue, malaria and scrub typhus, as part of extensive guidelines issued by the health department on Thursday in an attempt to curb the unusually high number of severe cases this season.
The set of rules, meant for hospitals and doctors alike, comes after respiratory infections claimed at least six young lives in Kolkata over the past few weeks. Five of the victims had adenovirus infections. The most recent death happened on Wednesday, when a 13-year-old girl, a spinal muscular atrophy patient, succumbed to adenoviral pneumonia in a private hospital.
"There has been an increasing number of children coming to hospitals with ARI," said a senior health department official. "In such a scenario, we need to keep strict vigil and follow a protocol for the medical management of these children to prevent mortality. We need to find out the reasons for the unusually high number of severe cases this time, including whether there is co-infection with Covid," he added.

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