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How to Protect Your Child from COVID-19

Struggling to shield your child from the threat of coronavirus? Here are some protective measures you can take… With schools shut, extracurricular activities suspended and playdates off the table, self-isolation for coronavirus can seem like a jail sentence for your child. Hard though it may be, it’s worth taking this extra time to create a self-hygiene regimen for your child to teach them the value of self-protection. Here are some ways of shielding your child from the novel coronavirus. The impact of coronavirus on children There’s little data available on the effects of COVID-19 on children. Recent research suggests that some groups of children—those below a certain age or with certain pre-existing health problems—are more likely to have serious symptoms than others. More vulnerable groups include infants with underdeveloped immune systems and older children with lung disease and respiratory problems. In general, however, COVID-19 seems to present milder symptoms in children. Steps to protect your child from COVID-19 COVID-19 is spread through the sharing of contagious respiratory droplets. So if a carrier of COVID-19 sneezes within a 1.5-metre radius, your child is at risk of catching the coronavirus. There are several measures you can adopt to minimise your child’s risk of contracting the illness. Here’s a spotlight. Social distancing With social distancing the key to breaking the coronavirus chain in India and the world, it’s important that you keep your child at home (schools are already closed across the country). Keep your child away from social gatherings and public areas. Create an activity playground within your home and plan a daily roster so that they feel less of an urge to step out. Bake cookies, pull out some water colours, and write poetry. Do more things together. “This is what parents should explain to their kids. Social distancing puts space between people. If someone is sick and there are no people around, the virus has nowhere to go. Pretend you are astronauts who need to remain in their space stations (their homes),” says Dr. Faisal Nahdi, consultant pediatrician, Rainbow Children’s Hospital. Hand washing With all that exploring, adventuring, painting, playing and more, your child’s hands are magnets for contagions. Encourage them to follow a thorough, twenty-second hand washing routine after every activity, getting the soap deep into the crevices of the palm and the webs of the fingers. Remember, the coronavirus can also spread via contaminated surfaces, so teach your child to regard all surfaces—tables, chairs, newspapers, taps—as alien. Every time they touch one, they must clean their hands. Keep up with vaccinations In the current climate of lockdowns, many pediatricians are asking parents to defer vaccinations until a more reasonable time. Keep in touch with your child specialist to ascertain when you can take your child in for their next vaccination. Keeping your child up to date with flu shots can go a long way in keeping their health up. And while the influenza vaccine is by no means a preventive measure for COVID-19, it can build up your child’s immunity against influenza, in turn, reducing the risk of illness during this difficult time. Take proactive action If your child has wheezing, difficulty breathing, a fever, persistent coughing or a cold, consider calling your child specialist for the best way forward. At Rainbow Children’s Hospital, our pediatricians are updated on the latest global protocols on COVID-19 and can respond to your child in a balanced and timely manner. When in doubt, seek medical advice—a phone call may give you the peace of mind you need. Despite all the measures you take, you might find it inevitable to let your child out of the house for a short spell in the sunshine or a runabout to let off some steam. If you live in a gated society or have a private garden, make sure to accompany your child to ensure that they maintain a safe distance from others, and return home swiftly to prevent extended exposure. A little can go a long way in eradicating coronavirus in India and keeping your child safe. Your every contribution counts. 

Dr. Aparna Reddy

Pediatric Pulmonologist

Rainbow Children's Hospital, Banjara Hills