News on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) first made headlines in December 2019, when an outbreak was reported in Wuhan, China. The risk level has been placed on high alert globally, marking the outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). While the risk level is high, there are safety measures people can take to prevent the spread of the virus. Everyone from all life stages are prone to catching the virus, but both elderly and children are among the vulnerable population and have an increased risk of having severe manifestations of the disease. It is important to teach your child the importance of staying attentive during times of public health emergencies such as outbreaks to ensure that they practice the necessary precautions. If your child is too young to understand, then it is up to you to safeguard their wellbeing with these practical tips.
Practice good hand hygiene
Teach your child to properly and frequently wash hands. Remind them to do so especially after going to the restroom to reduce the chance of getting an infection. Viruses thrive in unsanitary conditions and metal surfaces—which are commonly found inside restrooms. If on the go, pack a bottle of 70% alcohol hand rub inside your child’s bag so they can sanitize their hands anytime. Provide them with tissues and disposable hand wipes.
Avoid crowded areas
Children can easily get sick when they are exposed to crowded areas like malls, public transport, markets and tourist spots. Avoid bringing your child outside during a virus outbreak since their underdeveloped immune systems and puts them at higher risk of acquiring infections.
A strong immune system is a good start in protecting your children from diseases. Additionally, a balanced diet of lean meat, fruits, and vegetables can also boost immunity compared to sugary snacks and processed food. Consult your doctor on what kind of supplements can your child take that contain vitamins and minerals that are known to improve resistance and recovery from infections like zinc and vitamin C.
Adopt healthy practices such as safe handling of food like washing your hands before preparing your meals. Thoroughly cook meat and eggs.
Check your child’s immunization records and make sure that it is updated with their annual influenza shot and other essential vaccinations for their age group.
Stay at home, use face masks
Keep your children at home when they are sick. Have them wear a mask if they have cough or colds, or if they would be going to crowded areas where there is a documented person-to-person transmission of an infection. In children who have asthma or other chronic respiratory diseases, wearing a mask when the air quality is poor is recommended. The current recommendation of health experts is to wear surgical face masks that filter out droplets from those who are infected. There are face masks that are specifically designed for children with smaller ear loops and adjustable nose clips that may function better versus bigger ones that are meant for adults. Make sure that you dispose masks properly in sealed waste bins and do hand hygiene after removing the mask. It is important to be informed on updates regarding this virus outbreak from credible sources such as the WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Always consult your child’s doctor regarding any concern about their health. Your pediatrician will be in the best position to give the appropriate medical advice. Immediately stop any kind of medicine intake and take your child to the nearest hospital should an allergic/adverse reaction happen. Always update your healthcare professional on all the medications that your child is currently taking/taken in the past so he/she can properly prescribe the right kind of medicine for him/her.