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.
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.
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
Practice social distancing
Clean and disinfect your home
Wearing a face mask
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.