Paediatricians across the country have moved to reassure parents worried about bringing their children needlessly to the doctor in times of a coronavirus epidemic.
Doctors are seeing a marked decrease in the number of children being brought in for a consultation, either by parents who fear the doctors may be overwhelmed, or because of a fear of being infected in the waiting room.
But the profession has been keen to reassure parents that the risks of delaying medical treatment when it is required outweigh the risks of contracting an infection which most young children are able to resist.
“Even if your children is only showing light symptoms, take it seriously and go to the doctor,” paediatricians advised the VRT. “Going half a day earlier could be crucial in some cases.”
In particular, children with chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes should not delay.
“We are able to guarantee a good follow-up for everyone, for example via digital platforms. Play safe and contact a doctor if there’s a medical problem.”
In most cases, the doctors write in an open letter, children’s symptoms will be light, including fever, cough, sort throat or muscle pain – typical flu-like symptoms. Seldom is an admission to hospital required. In most cases, a drug such as paracetamol is all that is required.
“But if as a parent you are concerned because your child shows more serious symptoms like shortness of breath or drowsiness, contact your doctor or paediatrician immediately, even if the child has no fever,” the letter advises.
Meanwhile the university hospital in Brussels has sounded a similar alarm for adult patients who may be delaying a doctor’s visit out of fear of contracting Covid-19.
The hospital has already seen several cases of patients who turn up at hospital only late, with serious consequences.
“One patient had to undergo a leg amputation because of a prolonged lack of oxygen caused by a narrowing of the artery, another was permanently paralysed by a stroke, and yet another died of an aneurysm on the way to the operating theatre,” said Professor Erik Debing, head of vascular medicine at the hospital’s centre for cardio-vascular illnesses.
The latter patient, he said, could have walked out of the hospital if he had come to the hospital when the first symptoms appeared – stabbing pains in the back three days earlier.