More Children in Japan Catching Colds After COVID Downgrade

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Average number of children with colds per designated medical facility
Based on data from the National Institute of Infectious Diseases and other materials

Colds among children have skyrocketed after COVID-19 was downgraded to Category V under the Infectious Diseases Law.

According to a report released by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases on June 6, the number of cases of herpangina, a type of summer cold, has increased by 400% and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections have doubled compared to figures before COVID was downgraded.

It is believed that the outbreak of such viruses was contained during the pandemic due to thorough infection prevention measures, but the public’s immunity is thought to have weakened, resulting in many people catching colds.

Such viral infections usually spread widely around July. This year, however, the situation is different. During the week ending on May 28, of the about 3,000 designated pediatric care facilities nationwide, an average of 1.33 people were diagnosed with herpangina and 1.95 with RSV per facility, compared to 0.28 and 0.99 during the week before COVID-19 was downgraded.

Since COVID was reclassified, the Ueno Pediatrics Clinic in Arakawa Ward, Tokyo, sometimes sees 40 children in a day who have fevers, twice as many as early May. Some children show serious symptoms, requiring hospitalization.

“Overall immunity against many infectious diseases has weakened as a result of thorough infection control measures during the pandemic, making it easier for infections to spread,” said Nagasaki University Prof. Hiroyuki Moriuchi, who specializes in pediatric medicine.

Moriuchi said children normally build their immunity to various viruses through exposure during infancy.

“There’s no need to be overly fearful of becoming infected,” Moriuchi said. “However, there are cases in which some children become seriously ill, so if you notice anything unusual, please do not hesitate to see your family doctor.”