Children and Covid-19

Children and Covid-19


  • Children account for approximately 13% of all Covid-19 infections that are caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, although they generally only experience minor symptoms or are asymptomatic.
  • Children with the following conditions are more at risk of developing complications arising from a Covid-19 infection: obesity, diabetes, asthma, congenital heart defects, hereditary metabolic disorders, or neurological conditions.
  • Despite the recent outbreak of Covid-19 infections, it is essential that children keep to their vaccination and health screening schedules, especially children under the age of 2. Doing so safely means only selecting hospitals offering services in buildings that can always maintain definitive social distancing between child patients.

Many of you may have seen news stories about increasing numbers of children contracting the SARS-CoV-2 virus, so there are bound to be parents experiencing anxiety about how best to keep their children safe from Covid-19. There may also be those who are thinking about what level of risk their child would be placed under should they contract the virus, or what to do in such a situation. Fortunately, our expert doctors specializing in the field of infectious diseases have written this piece to allay any fears that parents may be facing at this time.

Covid-19 infection rates among children

Throughout the past year of the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been found that children infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19 make up approximately 13% of all cases. However, most of these cases are either not serious, or are asymptomatic. Only a tiny fraction of these cases develop serious symptoms and require critical hospital care or ventilator equipment. Nevertheless, children are at risk of developing more severe symptoms or complications arising from an infection should they be suffering from any of the following conditions: obesity, diabetes, asthma, congenital heart defects, hereditary metabolic disorders, or neurological conditions.

Children under 1 year of age tend to experience more severe symptoms than older children when infected as their immune systems can be weaker and less developed. However, to clarify, such cases would be similar to infant flu patients, who experience symptoms associated with the respiratory system. It is also important to understand that children who have received a vaccination against serious bacterial infections are only protected against the infections for which those vaccinations were designed.

How do children contract Covid-19?

The way in which children contract the SARS-CoV-2 virus is no different from adults, namely inhabiting the same space as an infected patient or patients, coming into contact with an infected patient without wearing a face mask, not maintaining personal hygiene, and not socially distancing. It is possible to contract an infection from an infected person regardless of whether they are symptomatic or not, if the appropriate precautions are not taken. This also extends to the parents of child Covid-19 patients.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and Center for Disease Control (CDC) offer the following guidance on how families can prevent small children from spreading Covid-19 to others:

Always keep your hands clean

  • Teach your child how to wash their hands properly according to the 7-step routine.
  • Wash hands regularly and properly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds per time or use an alcohol gel with at least 70% alcohol content.
  • Practice safe hygiene, meaning shielding your mouth with an elbow when sneezing/coughing, or by using a tissue, which should then be disposed of appropriately before washing the hands once more.
  • Avoid touching the eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Ensure children wash their hands with soap and water as soon as they return home, after they use the bathroom, and before they eat meals. This extends to parents, who should be careful to maintain hand hygiene when preparing meals.

Practice social distancing

  • Avoid close contact with household members, including both children and adults.
  • Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet or 1 meter from people from other households.
  • Should other children visit your home, ensure they all play outside and maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from one another.
  • Avoid activities that involve the shared use of equipment or toys, such as footballs, basketballs, etc.

Clean and disinfect your home

  • Use soapy water, an alcohol cleaning gel of at least 70% concentration, or disinfectants, such as sodium hypochlorite, mixed with water at the recommended ratios to wipe down the following areas of the home:
    • Any surfaces that are subject to daily shared use or are frequently touched, such as tablecloths, doorknobs, handles, chairs, switches, remote controls, electronic devices (buttons), windows, tables, bathrooms, and basins.
    • Surfaces that are prone to becoming dirty, such as baby changing tables and dining tables.
    • Surfaces that children touch regularly, such as bed rails, tables, or toys – especially those that children like to put in their mouths. These should be cleaned with soapy water, but parents must also be careful not to leave a soapy residue behind when doing so.
  • In cases where parents are required to care for a child suffering with Covid-19, they should wash their hands after touching anything that child has come into contact with, including nappies and bed linen, in order to ensure they remain free from infection, while it is also advised that parents maintain social distancing and always wear a face mask when interacting with others.

Wearing a face mask

  • It is recommended that a face mask be worn any time you leave the home or enter a public space, while it is also advisable to avoid close contact with others.
  • Children aged 2 and above are advised to wear a face mask when encountering people outside of the family unit.
  • It is not recommended that a face mask be placed on children under 2, those with respiratory conditions, or those who cannot remove the mask independently as the respiratory systems of these groups may not yet be equipped to deal with the demands a face mask places on them in terms of oxygen usage, which could pose a significant danger to their health. Instead, these groups should be kept at least 2 meters away from strangers at all times or have their prams covered with a cloth in the cases of young infants.

Crucially, children should be brought in for their regular health check-ups and vaccination appointments as scheduled, especially infants under 2 years of age. Doing so safely means only selecting hospitals offering services in buildings that can always maintain definitive social distancing between child patients.

Finally, parents and other adults at home should adhere to Covid-19 preventive measures to set a good example for children in the household.


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