The current COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of our lives and has brought disruption to families around the world. As a parent, you will want to do all you can to protect your children from the virus. However, as COVID-19 is a new form of coronavirus, very little is known about the infection with experts and medical professionals discovering new things almost every day.
Obviously, your child’s schooling also needs to be taken into consideration, so we have prepared this brief guide containing information that you as a parent, need to know.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a novel virus and is a new strain of the coronavirus. Coronaviruses aren’t anything new; indeed they have been linked with some forms of common cold and the more serious Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The new strain was first identified in Wuhan, China in late 2019, and its name is derived from CO – meaning corona, VI – meaning virus and D – meaning disease. 19 merely represents the year it was identified.
What symptoms should you look out for?
The most common symptoms include a persistent cough, high temperature, loss of taste and/or smell along with shortness of breath. Many of the signs that present themselves are similar to influenza or the common cold and are generally relatively mild. However, the infection, in more severe cases, can cause pneumonia and breathing difficulties which may require hospitalisation. Should you or a family member start to display symptoms, you should initially call (to avoid face to face contact) a medical professional and seek their advice.
How is the virus spread?
COVID-19 is transmitted via respiratory droplets which are spread by an infected person. They are usually from coughs or sneezes but may even be generated by breathing and talking. The droplets can be airborne or can fall onto surfaces. The virus, if not treated with alcohol, antibacterial cleaners or bleach, can remain present on these surfaces for anything from a few hours to several days. Experts believe that the primary source of infection is by touching surfaces rather than droplets that are in the air.
What is the way to protect myself and my family from COVID-19?
The single best way to protect yourself from the virus is by frequently washing your hands with warm water and soap, ideally, antibacterial soap. You should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds ensuring that you work between the fingers, under nails and include the wrists. After washing, rinse your hands thoroughly under running water and dry with a clean towel or preferably a single-use paper towel.
Where possible, avoid touching your face, particularly the mouth, nose and eyes and if you must touch these areas, wash your hand thoroughly before and after doing so. Social distancing, keeping a distance of 2 metres apart and minimising your contact with other households even if they are members of the same family is recommended.
Do I need to wear a mask?
In many areas, it is a legal requirement to wear a mask in public places (please check the current government advice as it is subject to change without prior notice). Masks are for the protection of others more than the wearer and should be worn if you have any respiratory symptoms. Whole of face, plastic face shields are advised if you are at risk of coming into contact with someone who has contracted the virus.
Disposable masks are advised and they should be worn once and disposed of properly. Reusable masks should be worn for short periods and washed frequently in hot water. Face coverings do provide limited protection are but are certainly not enough to stop the spread of infection with frequent hand washing being far more important.
Can children contract the virus?
Anyone of any age can catch COVID-19, although the evidence at the moment suggests that healthy children are more likely to display milder symptoms. However, children can be carriers of the disease and be asymptomatic meaning that could pass the virus on to others. The elderly and those with a pre-existing medical condition are most at risk of developing a serious illness. According to UNICEF, most infected children have been in North America and Europe. It would appear that those from Black, Asian and ethnic minority groups (BAME) most severely affected.
What should I do if my child develops any symptoms?
It is crucial to remember that many symptoms of COVID-19 are the same as those for common cold and flu, but you should still seek medical advice, in the first instance, over the phone. Every member of the family should practice good personal hygiene and self-isolate where possible. Try to keep your child’s contact with others in the same household to a minimum. Make sure that your child is up to date with all their vaccinations to protect your child from other bacterial infections and viruses which may weaken, even in the short-term, their immune system.
Should I keep my child away from school?
With schools now starting to reopen, it is important that your child returns to school to continue their education, assuming that they are not displaying any symptoms or are particularly vulnerable. In both of these instances, you should seek the advice of medical professionals and discuss the matter with the school to decide the most appropriate course of action.
Of course, should the government make any changes to the current rules or if the school believes that the risk of infection is too high, parents will be informed immediately.
The reliability of information online
Sadly, there are a lot of myths, lies and misinformation being spread online. We would advise you to fact-check any information that you may read and only rely on the information published from reliable sources such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and current government websites.
Did you find our article interesting?
We hope that this article covered most of the points regarding COVID-19, but we hope parents understand that the situation is continually evolving. At Kidz Village, we will always update parents on the current status as and when we have it. Our acclaimed International School in Bangkok strives to provide the ideal environment to promote learning. For more information, please call us on +66 2888 3337 and we will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.