Any parent will tell you that one of their top priorities in life is to keep their children healthy. With the number of Covid-19 cases growing worldwide, it’s inevitable that parents stress about the safety and well-being of their little ones.
In our previous article, we’ve busted the myth that children are immune to the virus. Children can get infected with COVID-19, and in fact, a few cases of COVID-19 have already been reported among children1. However, it’s important to note that children around the world are not feeling the effects of the virus as severely as older people.
So really, how severely is COVID-19 affecting children? Should parents be worried about their child catching or spreading the virus? Here’s what we can tell you so far!
What happens to my child if they catch the virus?
The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar in children and adults—this includes fever, runny nose, and cough, as well as some reports of vomiting and diarrhea. However, children who caught the virus have generally shown mild symptoms, or none at all2. This means that an infected child likely won’t feel as sick, but will still be contagious nonetheless, which could put adults of higher risk in danger.
Does this mean I should forbid my child to play outside while school is suspended?
As much as possible, yes. Because some children are asymptomatic, they could spread the virus faster this way. Practicing social distancing is key in slowing the spread of COVID-19! It is advised that children should not have in-person playdates with children from other households, and instead, should be encouraged to have supervised phone or video calls with their friends to maintain social connections while at home3.
If your child must get some fresh air, parents must limit their play area to the house’s front or backyard, where they can practice social distancing and remain 6 feet away from anyone in their neighborhood.
Are there preventive measures that should be done indoors?
Yes, we all need to take the necessary steps to protect children and others from getting sick, even when staying indoors. Parents should teach their child about proper hygiene and help them develop the routine of frequent hand-washing, and, once again, social distancing—especially if other people in the same household are at particularly high risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Parents should consider taking extra precautions to distance their child from those people if they let their little one roam outside and play with other children in the last 14 days4.
With that said, make sure to also disinfect high-touch surfaces in the house regularly. Cleaning tables, chairs, handles, doorknobs, light switches, remotes, desks, toilets, sinks, toys, and washing plushies and bedsheets would help protect everyone in the household as well.
So, how worried should I be about my child catching or spreading the virus?
Parents can take solace in the fact that the disease has generally been milder in children. However, children can still pass the virus onto others who may be at higher risk. Health experts insist that parents still need to stay vigilant. While there is no need to overwhelm yourself with panic, simply teaching your little ones standard preventive actions will go a long way in slowing the spread of the virus, and in turn, in keeping your little one safe.
For more information about COVID-19, you may visit www.covid-19facts.com.
1-2 Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention. 13 April 2020. FAQ: COVID-19 and Children
3-4 Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention. 13 April 2020. Daily Life and Coping: Caring for Children
5 Word Health Organization. March 2020. Key Messages and Actions for COVID-19 Prevention and Control in Schools