Doctor Neala Dyck, a family physician at the Steinbach Family Medical, is concerned for the health of children as Manitoba heads into the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Dyck says we should be aware of the risks of COVID with students going back to school.

“I think the importance there is, that we want to try to protect the children who are not able to be vaccinated yet. Vaccination does decrease transmission rates. So, if we're able to vaccinate our communities and then protect those 

children who are not able to be vaccinated, I think that is very important for making sure our kids are able to return to school safely and able to stay in in-person learning.”

She adds that following the basics for our children and those in close contact continues to be important.

“Just make sure that we are still following the basics, in terms of physical distancing, wearing masks when appropriate, making sure that people are staying home if they're sick and getting tested if there are symptoms.”

According to the latest study from the American Academy of Pediatrics, COVID cases in children in the U.S.A. represented 28.9 percent of the total weekly reported cases from September 2 to 9. This comes after American students have been back in school for more than a month.

Dr. Dyck says they haven’t seen that trend in Manitoba yet.

“I think there is a concern that it will be coming. In terms of what we've been seeing in Manitoba throughout the COVID pandemic, we're usually a little bit behind in terms of where are we are in the curve compared to the US and other parts of Canada, compared to BC, Alberta.”

The Manitoba government is preparing for a possible fourth wave to impact young people.

In a press conference on Thursday, Manitoba Premier Kelvin Goertzen said public health was increasing pediatric intensive care units.

“There is an ability to fairly significantly increase the number of ICU pediatric beds so that work has been happening together with our Minister of Health Audrey Gordon. Hopefully, we don't need to use it but obviously, the preparations are important.”

When it comes to the care of a child with COVID-19, Dr. Dyck explains, it’s not much different than taking care of an adult.

“It simply a lot of it is supportive care. Say, for example, giving oxygen should the oxygen requirement (for the child) be low. But there aren't a lot of things that are kind of really specific for kids compared to adults. But generally speaking, it's the same principles for kids or adults.”

While COVID vaccines are not available for children under the age of 12, Dr. Dyck says it may be soon.

“There are studies that are ongoing for Pfizer and Moderna, so that may be something that will be coming soon, but at this point, those kids who are not able to be vaccinated, having the vaccination of those around them, so children over 12 as well, as adults, is helpful for decreasing the transmission rates and the infection rates.”