By Dr.Priya Biswakumar, Consultant Pediatrician, Indira Child Care and Apollo Children’s Hospitals, Chennai
The very mention of the words “Corona/COVID” are enough to send most people, especially parents and children into a tizzy. It is so astonishing in this day and age when we think we have conquered the moon and landed in mars, that such a tiny virus (invisible to the eye) is wreaking so much havoc in our lives. It has brought the entire world and our lives to a standstill. A large part of the country is currently in lockdown/ curfew mode to help curb the spread of the disease.
As each day dawns, new knowledge in relation to this disease keep unravelling. I have been handling many children and adults with COVID-19 and would like to break myths in relation to this and give you all some snippets of knowledge that would empower you.
This COVID-19 disease is caused by a virus called the SARS-COV-2. It originated in Wuhan in 2019 and is unleashing its fury in different ways across all age groups. Like any other virus, it constantly undergoes mutation, this second wave of infection that we are experiencing now seems to be due to the Indian variant B.1.617. It is extremely rapidly spreading and a person gets infected if they are exposed to or in contact with an infected person for just between 8-15mins. We know adults have been infected from the beginning of this pandemic. Children on the other hand seem to definitely be more infected this time around. The age group of children infected ranges from newborns to 18 yrs of age.
Here’s what you must remember when it comes to treating kids who are COVID Positive:
1.Initial knowledge during the 1st wave that fever is the 1st symptom only is not true. COVID-19 infections/disease in children can present as cold, cough, decreased activity, decreased intake, irritability, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain to name a few symptoms.
2.COVID infection in children tends to still be milder than in adults. Very few children get severe COVID disease called MIS-C (Multi Inflammatory Syndrome in Children).
3.Early identification and management is the key- so definitely do contact your paediatrician if your child has/develops any behaviour/symptom different from the normal pattern.
4.Isolation of children is recommended with either mother or father. Separate isolation or quarantine of children below 10/11yrs should not be done.
5.Infants can and must be continued to be breastfed by the mother irrespective of the mother or baby are COVID positive.
6.No specific medicines are presently available either to prevent or treat this disease in children.
7.Normal diet with adequate fluids /water intake is recommended.
8.If both parents have tested positive and the child has been with them during the initial period till diagnosis of parents-do not send the children to be with the grandparents. The child may be asymptomatic but can carry the infection and cause severe disease in the grandparents.
9.Keep talking to your children to address their fears and concerns and reassure them.
10.Isolation period of 14 days must be followed for the infected child and parent.
11.Regular immunization must be given during this pandemic for normal children and infants as they may be at greater risk for getting other life-threatening infections if these other vaccines are skipped.
12.There are no COVID-19 vaccines available yet for children.
13.Follow universal safety precautions- SMS namely Social distancing, wearing appropriate Mask and Sanitisation.
14.Masks are a must for children above 6 years, but if your toddler is able to keep them on then please make them wear them. Only cloth masks for children are recommended.
15.Constant use of hand sanitisers (which contain high amounts of alcohol and other chemicals) are not recommended in children. Good handwashing with soap is preferred.
16.Stay away and keep your children away from too much negative news on TV/Social media. Instead, make sure that they exercise and do Yoga /Pranayama for improving their overall health and immunity.
Use these difficult times in a constructive manner to bond with your children.” Tough times don’t last but tough people do “. Use all your resources (physical and mental) to get through these COVID times.