COVID-19: Impact On Children

Mateena Maqbool

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) It was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, and has resulted in an ongoing pandemic. Common symptoms include fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, and loss of smell and taste. The time from exposure to onset of symptoms is typically around five days, but may range from two to fourteen days. The virus is primarily spread between people during close contact, most often via small droplets produced by coughing, sneezing, and talking. The droplets usually fall to the ground or onto surfaces rather than travelling through air over long distances. Less commonly, people may become infected by touching a contaminated surface and then touching their face. It is most contagious during the first three days after the onset of symptoms, although spread is possible before symptoms appear, and from people who do not show symptoms. The standard method of diagnosis is by real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) from a nasopharyngeal swab.Chest CT imaging may also be helpful for diagnosis in individuals where there is a high suspicion of infection based on symptoms and risk factors. Recommended measures to prevent infection include frequent hand washing, use ofHand sanitizers (where soap and water is not available), maintaining physical distance from others (especially from those with symptoms), quarantine (especially for those with symptoms), covering coughs, and keeping unwashed hands away from the face. The use of face masks or cloth face coverings such as a scarf has been recommended by health officials in public settings to minimize the risk of transmissions. CDC recommends washing hands with soap and water whenever possible because hand washing reduces all types of germs and chemicals. Soap and water are more effective than hand sanitizers at removing certain kinds of germs, like cryptosporidium, norovirus and Clostridium difficile. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are no vaccines nor specific antiviral treatments for COVID-19.Management involves the treatment of symptoms, supportive care, isolation, and experimental measures. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID 19 outbreak a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) on 30 January 2020 and a pandemic on 11 March 2020. Covid-19 seems to be impacting children at lower rates than adults, and who contract the virus typically have mild illness. According to Kate Woodworth from CDC’s COVID-19 Response Maternal Child Health Team, symptoms of COVID-19 in children include fever, cough, congestion, sore throat. Some have reported vomiting and diarrhea. Testing criteria is same as adults. According to Dr. Woodworth low infection rates among children may be due to having more mild cases that aren’t reported. Children also don’t have some of exposure from work, travel and care giving that adults experience. They are typically exposed by someone in their home.Child with mild symptoms still can transmit the virus to others and there also have been reports of asymptomatic transmission, according to Dr. Woodworth. Parents can encourage their child to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by teaching them to do the same things everyone should do to stay healthy.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
• Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw the tissue in the trash.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
• If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects (e.g., tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles).
Children are the future, help to brighten their today
CDC recommends that everyone 2 years and older wear a cloth face covering that covers their nose and mouth when they are out in the community. Cloth face coverings should NOT be put on babies or children younger than 2 years because of the danger of suffocation. Children younger than 2 years of age are listed as an exception as well as anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance. This is a new virus and continuous research is done on it, but so far, there does not seem to be a lot of illness in children. Many schools across the country have announced dismissals for temporary periods. Discourage children and teens from gathering in other public places while school is dismissed to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community. The COVID-19 crisis has a potentially far-reaching, long-term negative impact on children around the world, Human Rights Watch said in a report. The impact is likely to be devastating, even though children who contract COVID-19 appear to have less severe symptoms and lower mortality rates than other age groups. More than 1.5 billion students are out of school. Widespread job and income loss and economic insecurity among families are likely to increase rates of child labor, sexual exploitation, teenage pregnancy, and child marriage. Stresses on families, particularly those living under quarantines and lockdowns, are increasing the incidence of domestic violence. As the global death toll from COVID-19 increases, large numbers of children will be orphaned and vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. More than 91 percent of the world’s students are out of school, due to school closures in at least 188 countries. The crisis has exposed vast disparities in countries’ emergency preparedness, internet access for children, and availability of learning materials. Although much focus has turned to online learning platforms, many public schools are not set up to use them or do not have the technology and equipment to provide online teaching. Nearly half of the world has no internet access. Child abuse is less likely to be detected during the COVID-19 crisis, as child protection agencies have reduced monitoring to avoid spreading the virus, and teachers are less able to detect signs of ill treatment with schools closed. As the COVID-19 pandemic overwhelms health systems, children may no longer receive immunizations or have access to life-saving basic health care. Reduced access to treatment during the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak in West Africa led to dramatic increases in deaths from malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis, including among children. Urgent measures should be taken to protect children’s rights like:
• Prioritizing efforts to continue education for all children, using all available technology.
• Providing economic assistance, including cash transfers to low-income families that will be hit first and hardest, to help them meet basic needs without resorting to child labor or child marriage
• Increasing children’s access to essential and life-saving healthcare services.
• Identify children orphaned by COVID-19 and expanding networks of extended family and foster care.
• Expanding public education, awareness campaigns, and other services for children at risk of violence in the home.
Children are our Nation’s most valuable asset. They represent the future of our country and hold our hopes for better Society and Nation. Protecting our children against devastating impact of pandemics like COVID-19 must be nations priority.
(The author is a Pediatric specialist. Views are his own)[email protected]

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Confirmed: 2,268,675Deaths: 45,257