With so much information out there, either on mainstream or social media, parents in the United States are still trying to figure out what exactly is COVID-19 and what they can do to help their families stay safe and secure.
In short, COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus (CoV) first identified in Wuhan, China, and linked to the same family of viruses as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and some types of the common cold.
The World Health Organization declared the as a pandemic on January 30th, given its worldwide rapid infection rate.
Parents are vital in reducing the risk of infection and helping their families navigate through such a crisis.
How does the COVID-19 virus spread?
According to the WHO, “the virus is transmitted through direct contact with respiratory droplets of an infected person (generated through coughing and sneezing), and touching surfaces contaminated with the virus.”
The health institution also noted that the virus might survive on surfaces for a few hours to several days.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
The virus has common flu symptoms that include:
- Shortness of breath
- In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia or breathing difficulties.
- Rarely, the disease can be fatal.
How can parents protect themselves and their children from COVID-19?
Research has shown that prevention measures like frequent hand washing, not touching your face (mouth, eyes, and nose) and covering your cough or sneeze with a flexed elbow or tissue, contribute to stopping the spreading.
WHO encourages scrubbing all surfaces when handwashing – including the back of hands, between fingers and under nails – with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and rinse thoroughly.
Other measures include avoiding close contact with anyone who has cold or flu-like symptoms and carries or a hand rub sanitizer with at least 60% of alcohol-based formula when going outside of your home.
It is ideal to regularly clean and disinfects frequently touched surfaces like smartphones, computers, car and doorknobs, light switches, and kitchen counter-tops, especially after coming back from the grocery store.
A recent Harvard report noted that “in terms of total deaths in the United States, influenza overwhelmingly causes more deaths today than COVID-19”.
However, parents are responsible for teaching their kids how to wash their hands properly. Seek medical care early if you or your child has a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing.
Families should make it a habit to wash their hands often, especially before meals, following nose-blowing, coughing, or sneezing; and after coming from outside the house.
Should parents and their children wear a face mask?
The use of a face mask is now standard and became a new add-on to our daily lives. It’s hard to see somebody without one in any of the essential businesses and places that are still open, like pharmacies, supermarkets, hospitals, banks, and others.
WHO suggests disposing of medical masks after usage to ensure their effectiveness and as a way to avoid any increased risk of transmitting the virus. The entity affirms that disposable face masks can only be used once and disregarded.
Does COVID-19 affect children?
People of any age are subject to get infected and transmit the virus.
Moreover, research suggests that those with pre-existing medical conditions are more likely to develop severe illness.
Children are more susceptible to mental health-related countermeasures taken by national and local authorities, such as school closures and social distancing from their peers.
Try to follow official guidance to ensure that your children can continue with their education online.
Parents should be on the lookout to minimize the mental effects and consequences of having their children confined at home and without the warmth of their school teachers and friends, as well as family activities.
What should parents do if their child has COVID-19 symptoms?
According to the CDC, “while seasonal influenza (flu) viruses are detected year-round in the United States, flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter (…) Most of the time, flu activity peaks between December and February, although activity can last as late as May.”
Since COVID-19 has flu-like symptoms like coughing and fever, parents should remain calm and seek medical assistance to discard the novel virus. Talking to their children is essential for keeping them mentally secure.
Keeping children up to date with vaccinations is a must to protect them against other viruses and bacteria causing diseases.
If your spouse has a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, please seek medical attention.
What precautions should I take for my family if we travel?
Parents need to stay aware, and o check any advisory for their destination, including restrictions on state entry, state quarantine requirements on entry, or other relevant advice if traveling is something you can’t avoid for any reason.
While traveling, please follow the same preventive measures as you would at home.
Can pregnant women transmit COVID-19 to unborn children?
Thankfully, there is no evidence to prove that the virus is transmitted from a mother to her baby during pregnancy.
Nevertheless, pregnant women should continue to follow social distancing and hygiene measures to protect themselves from contracting and spreading the virus.
Parents are encouraged to take full responsibility and speak to their children and family about the coronavirus.
Preventive hygiene habits and social distancing help stop the spreading of the disease, while scientists develop a vaccine.
Get information based on official health institutions and seek medical assistance if you experience cold-like symptoms like coughing, sneezing, or fever.
Keep your children’s mental health safe by keeping them active at home. Speak to them if you feel they are discouraged from staying at home for too long.