Winnipeg researcher studying effects of COVID-19 in children around the world

Research out of Winnipeg is on the front lines in the race to figure out how at risk children are to COVID-19.

Dr. Terry Klassen, president and CEO at the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba (CHRIM), is co-leading a new global study looking to improve how children with COVID-19 are diagnosed and treated.

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“Even though it’s less common [in children], it can happen,” said Klassen of the virus that’s been spreading around the world since first being reported in China late last year.

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“So we need to be prepared, we need to recognize it early and we really need to make sure that they get the best care possible.”

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Led by Dr. Stephen Freedman, a Calgary-based pediatric emergency doctor and clinician scientist, the study will collect data from some 12,500 pediatric patients with respiratory concerns.

Researchers will look at children’s symptoms and their potential exposure to the virus and follow their medical experiences, with records collected of their lab tests, x-rays, treatment, and ultimate outcomes.

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International collaboration

The information will be gathered from 50 different emergency rooms in 19 countries around the world, Klassen told Global News Morning Winnipeg.

“We need to study it collectively to get enough numbers so that we can have accurate information as to who will really get sick,” he explained.

How to talk to your kids about COVID-19

How to talk to your kids about COVID-19

“The power of this international group … is that we can actually communicate with someone in Italy, a pediatric emergency doc, and she can tell us how it’s going there, or someone from Spain.

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“It gives you a glimpse into the other countries and a connection, and if there are new innovations or new things coming up, you are linked to that.”

Data from the study, which is being funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, will be shared with researchers, clinicians and health agencies in real time.

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“Very little research has been published on COVID-19 infection in children and healthcare professionals need information now,” said Freedman in a release.

“We want to identify the differences in symptoms between children infected by SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory viruses such as influenza so we can tailor testing and treatment approaches to achieve the best results.”

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Manitoba reported its first pediatric case of COVID-19 Wednesday — a girl under the age of 10 from Winnipeg.

As of Thursday Manitoba is reporting 36 probable and confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Coronavirus shutters Winnipeg school playgrounds

Coronavirus shutters Winnipeg school playgrounds

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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