While a lot of the focus of our attention at present has been on adults with Covid-19, we need also to think of our children. What do we know about Covid-19 and children?
What is the best way to protect our children?
New Zealand is currently doing a great job of protecting our population, children included. We are currently employing strict alert level 4, or lockdown practice with the aim of preventing or eliminating the threat of Covid-19.
Physical distancing (keeping 2 meters away from others), staying local, staying within our bubble and frequent handwashing are the most important ways to protect our children. Coughing or sneezing into the elbow also reduces the likelihood of spread of infections such as Covid-19.
I am cautiously optimistic that NZ’s strict actions are working.
Stay at home in your bubble and wash your hands and your children’s hands frequently.
Are children infected with Covid-19?
Yes, children are infected with Covid-19. Though this is reported to be significantly less than what is seen in the adult population. It is uncertain whether this is related to reduced sampling of children.
The data we have currently is mostly from China, though there is information from other countries such as Italy. Not all the information has been peer-reviewed, so it needs to be interpreted with caution.
How is Covid-19 transmitted in children?
Transmission of Covid-19 in children is an aspect that has not been well studied. There is evidence of adult to child transmission as well as vice versa. It is not clear what the attack rate is for children, with some reports describing it as the same as adults, others observing a lower rate of acquiring Covid-19 in children. Children can be without symptoms so may not be tested, which may skew the results.
Do children have the same illness as adults?
Children seem to have less severe disease. In some reports, there are a greater number of children who have Covid-19 but are asymptomatic. Children tend to have cough and fever, not so much the shortness of breath seen in adults. Children also have been reported to have 30-40% runny nose and sore throat, with 10% noted to have diarrhoea and vomiting.
Children’s blood tests and x-ray findings are also different to those described in the adult population. This is not uncommonly seen in other infections or diseases seen in both age groups.
What about children with underlying conditions?
There is very little known about children with underlying conditions. This is likely due to the low numbers of cases that have been documented. However, any respiratory infection is one to avoid in a child with pre-existing lung disease, or with a known immune-compromised system.
To date there are few children found with Covid-19 amid our global pandemic. Children are infected but appear to have milder disease. We can protect our children by staying at home, in our bubble and washing our hands and their hands frequently.
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