Once Bitten Twice Shy: COVID Story Retold. Is My Child Safe in 2021?

COVID Story Retold. Is My Child Safe in 2021?

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With the onset of a second wave much faster than expected, are our children safe now?

Since no vaccine is yet available for people under 18, as a parent I am more concerned about how the second wave might affect my preschooler.
Numerous evidence is now showing that young children and adolescents are equally affected as adults during the second peak. India’s version of the story is likewise: 15,000 children under 10 years of age have so far been tested positive.
It is still unclear whether schools are the reason for the emergence of COVID in kids. Yet many schools are being closed in South India as a precautionary measure.
With more socialisation, young ones contract the virus from adults when they accompany them to crowded places like weddings and shopping malls where social distancing is seldom practised. Not to forget the outdoor group play which is also a potential risk factor.
Children have a mild disease to being asymptomatic but they are in fact the super spreaders taking infection at a rapid pace to the family elders. Common symptoms which the children exhibit are low-grade fevers ranging up to 100-102, cold, cough, vomiting, loose stools, etc. A rare and dangerous complication called MISC- Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome related to COVID in children is on the rise as more and more kids are turning positive. Even though most children are asymptomatic, those at risk are those are under treatment for chronic illness like liver and kidney diseases, and the ones taking immunosuppressants who can experience a little more severe disease.
When fever lasts for more than five days and the child starts to develop a rash, redness of eyes, painful swelling in the neck, altered level of consciousness, you must meet your paediatrician to confirm if your child is developing a severe inflammation or not.
As the age-old saying goes, prevention is better than cure: self-discipline to follow the COVID safety guidelines still remains the only sure way to keep COVID at bay.
Teaching children and adolescents the importance of following S.M.S is the need of the hour.
  • Social distancing
  • Mask usage
  • Sanitising
3 feet / 1 metre: a magic number that every child and adolescent must be made to realise. Distancing ourselves is given paramount importance as it seems to be the only Bhrahmastra against COVID. Whether this weapon is lethal to the virus or not, it still keeps our loved ones safe, that is for sure. Playdates and play mornings in closed premises must be strictly discouraged. Visiting friends and relatives, attending family get-togethers can be made virtual. Outdoor play in the ground while maintaining social distancing can be permitted as the risk of transmission in open spaces is proved to be less if SMS is followed.
The use of masks in children is still a grey area. It is quite a challenging task for the parents to persuade their wards to use masks correctly as improper usage is again harmful. WHO recommends the use of masks in adolescents similar to that in adults. For the schooling 6-11-year-old kids, masks may be recommended if the risk of transmission is very high in the locality if there are adequate adult supervision and the chance of getting elders at home developing a serious illness. WHO does not recommend the use in under 5 as they may not be able to use the masks properly. The other consensus body in the US- CDC forbids mask usage for kids who are less than 2 years of age. Indian authorities have not yet proposed any specific guidelines. Hence we can adapt to any of the two as per our risks involved or as directed by your doctor.
Next comes the question of which type to use. Fabric masks serve as good source control hence preferred in kids. But if ur ward is immunocompromised and suffering from any chronic illness you must choose a medical mask that should be used under adult supervision.
The sanitizing of hands is one successful preventive step that is easily adopted by kids courtesy of their love for water play. Kids must be encouraged to wash their hands after returning from the outdoors or touching high contact surfaces like doorknobs, lift buttons, etc. Washing with hand soap for 40 seconds following the six steps of handwashing works effectively. Alcohol rub use must come with a forewarning that it might be an irritant to
the eyes when it comes in close contact.
Lastly, it is pertinent to clear the kids of their innumerable doubts regarding COVID and the related morbidity and mortality that comes along. Age-wise education to keep them well informed about the new normal needs no say because,
‘A healthy mind is a growing mind’.
– A doctor in the eyes of a mom.
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