The coronavirus (COVID-19) is in all 50 states and has been declared a national emergency by the President. All states have closed schools and are asking people to practice “social distancing” and self-quarantine. This is essentially the number-one thing you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones: Stay away from people (especially those that are sick!), skip large social gatherings, and take everyday preventive measures against spreading germs such as washing your hands and covering coughs. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) review of more than 55,000 cases in China shows that the main symptoms are fever, a dry cough, and tiredness. There can be other flu-like symptoms, but the dry cough appears in roughly 68 percent of the cases and the fever in nearly 88 percent. Luckily, children and babies appear to be less susceptible to COVID-19. However, they can carry the virus and they can be severely affected by it, especially infants if they do get infected. If you suspect that you or anyone in your family is affected by the virus or has been exposed to the virus, call your doctor.
Symptoms of coronavirus in babies and children
Coronavirus symptoms in babies and children are similar to those in adults. The difference is that children typically have milder symptoms than adults. They can include:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Difficulty breathing
- Vomiting and diarrhea (in rare cases)
Do’s and Don’ts for protecting your child from COVID-19:
Avoiding sick people
Keep kids as far away as possible from anyone who is coughing or sneezing
Avoid all people
For up to 14 days the virus can remain in a host without presenting with symptoms, however, it can still be spread by those carriers so it is recommended to avoid all contact with people if possible.
Encourage children to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or wash the hands of your baby if they are too young to do it on their own. Especially after going to the bathroom, blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing. (If you don't have access to soap, hand sanitizer, as long as it's 60 percent alcohol, will suffice).
Cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces
These include tables, hard-backed chairs, doorknobs, handles, light switches, toilets, and sinks.
Washing plush toys
Follow the manufacturer's instructions. Launder on the warmest recommended setting, and dry completely.
Wear a face mask in public settings
The CDC recommends wearing a simple, non-surgical cloth to cover your child’s and your own face in settings, such as supermarkets, where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. (Face coverings should not be worn by children under 2 years old or anyone not capable of removing them on their own.)
Practice "social distancing"
Kids may be less affected by the virus, but it's important to remember they could potentially spread the virus to someone more vulnerable, such as an elderly relative or medically fragile schoolmate. By taking individual precautions, we can help protect others.
Avoid large gatherings of people
Authorities in most communities are already enforcing this by closing schools, shutting restaurants, and canceling big events. As a family, it's also a good idea to stay clear of more informal large gatherings, such as big birthday parties, kids' soccer matches, and extended family reunions. The advice on playdates is changing almost as fast as case counts. By the time you read this, playdates will have gone from an advised limit of three kids to the no playdate policy recommendations being announced in big cities. Follow local advice to protect your family. Get outside, just keep your distance. You and your kids still need fresh air and exercise, it helps reduce stress and bolster the body's immune system. Just try to keep at least 6 feet between your family and others. Consider going for a hike, or playing catch together at the park, only if you can maintain distance from others.
Minimize trips to closed-in areas
Indoor playgrounds, trampoline parks, museums, and other places where people gather in close quarters are best avoided. Germs spread more easily indoors. Obviously, some trips are unavoidable such as going to the grocery store, but try to go at times when there will be fewer people, and don't bring your children if you can safely avoid it. And remember to wash your hands before you go and when you return.
Consider limits on eating out
A large number of states have ordered bars and restaurants to cease all operations other than serving take-out meals.
Connect digitally with friends and family members
The New York Times suggests using FaceTime or Skype to check in with grandparents and friends who may be feeling isolated. Your kids could also chat with their friends online, or do parallel activities together over FaceTime such as coloring or playing with Legos.
Touching your face
Viruses can stay alive for a couple of hours depending on the surface they land. People have a habit of touching their face which increases the chances of the virus entering the body.
Wearing masks even if you don’t have symptoms
Let’s be wise in using masks. Not everyone has to wear a mask. With the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2, masks in large numbers are required by health professionals who are treating patients with COVID-19. If you feel you need to use one, try to limit the masks you use by reusing previously worn masks.
Going out despite being sick
While the seasonal flu is also infecting a lot of people, it is good to stay alert, considering the COVID-19 outbreak. If you have any symptoms previously mentioned, it’s advised to stay inside as to not potentially spread the virus.
Don’t self medicate
COVID-19, or otherwise known as Coronavirus is a virus. This means that Antibiotics cannot be used to treat patients with COVID-19, as those only work on bacterial infections. Pain and fever medication can be taken sparingly, however, it is advised to see a doctor if the symptoms are worsening.
Public health officials still say the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 is low, but your risk level is likely to rise as the virus spreads across the country. Taking proper precautions - washing your hands and making preparations are the best things you can do.
What to take away from this
The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar in children and adults. However, children with COVID-19 generally present with milder symptoms so they are more likely to be fine, but they can still spread the virus. Also, It is rare for children to get so sick that they need to go to the hospital due to COVID-19, however, don’t hesitate to bring your child to the doctors if their symptoms worsen.