Parents need to have the coronavirus conversation with kids because they’re hearing about it from all sides and it’s best that they get the facts rather than fear-infected hype.
Parents also need not fear too much that their children will be infected as to date few children have tested positive.
Of more than 44,000 confirmed cases from China, only 416 (less than one per cent) were aged nine years or younger. No deaths were reported in this age group.
In Australia, only one child has so far been confirmed to have the virus.
It remains unclear whether the low numbers of child infections recorded is due to: low numbers of children being exposed to the virus; low numbers of children being infected, or low numbers of infected children developing symptoms severe enough to present for care.
That’s not to say that parents wouldn’t do well to inform their children that the virus is spread by droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes and that infection can be transmitted if a person touches objects or surfaces that an infected person has coughed and sneezed on and then touches their mouth, nose or face.
The best way to avoid infection is by washing hands with soap and water, using a tissue or the crook of the elbow to cover the mouth when coughing or sneezing, and avoiding close contact with others who are unwell.
Masks in the community are only helpful in preventing people who have coronavirus from spreading it to others and it’s almost impossible to get small kids to consistently wear these.
A vaccine for the condition is still some way off. But it’s worthwhile getting children child vaccinated against influenza. This is not only to protect children against influenza, but also to reduce the chance children might be considered to have COVID-19, and to minimise other illnesses in the community that would use health resources.
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