Kids and Coronavirus: Should I Panic?

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Posted: April 01, 2020

Understandably, we are all apprehensive about coronavirus, or Covid-19. Unlike many flus and illnesses, coronavirus seems less dangerous for children than it is for older members of the population. Nevertheless, we must stay vigilant. Just recently, 11 children tested positive for Covid-19 in Uganda (that seems to be ¼ of their cases). Some children have even ended up in intensive care with the illness and a small percentage has died.  

While it’s clearly best not to contract the illness at all by isolating your family from others as much as possible, sometimes it is unavoidable. As a parent, you might be wondering what to do if your child gets sick.

We checked with the World Health Organisation and this is what they suggest if your child starts to show coronavirus symptoms – a fever, dry cough, and fatigue. 

  • Stay calm. It’s hard under these circumstances but the last thing your child needs is a parent panicking.
  • Talk to a healthcare provider. You can:
    • Dial the USSD code *719# here to access numbers in your area if you suspect a loved one has been infected. A health official will instruct you on what to do and whether you need to present your child at a designated public healthcare facility for testing.  
    • Call Lancet Kenya and arrange for a drive-through test. The pathologists are offering coronavirus testing at Ksh 13,000 through a drive-through model at some of their laboratories. They have assigned lab personnel to collect test samples from those being tested in their cars without having them enter the laboratory. Contact them for more details.
  • Keep your child home. This keeps your child away from other germs. It also helps prevent your child from spreading the illness to others. If the doctor thinks your child might have coronavirus, the whole family will need to stay home for 14 days.
  • Keep other people and pets in the house away from your child as much as possible.
  • If possible, have your sick child use a different bathroom from others. If that isn’t possible, wipe down the bathroom often. 
  • Everyone in your family should wash their hands well and often. Wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser if no soap is available.
  • Use regular household cleaners or wipes to clean things that get touched a lot (doorknobs, light switches, toys, remote controls, phones, etc). Do this every day.
  • Help your child get plenty of rest and drink lots of liquids.
  • Watch for signs that your child might need more medical help, such as trouble breathing, fast breathing, sleepiness, not being able to drink a lot of liquids, or signs of dehydration like peeing less than usual.

Take your child to the hospital (or call an ambulance during curfew hours) if your child:

  • has breathing problems. Look for muscles pulling in between the ribs or the nose puffing out with each breath.
  • is confused or very sleepy

Call +254110719719 (Ministry of Health COVID-19 hotline) if your child is struggling to breathe, is too out of breath to talk or walk

How Do Doctors Test People for Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

To test someone for coronavirus, doctors send a mucus sample from the nose and back of the throat to a lab. If the person coughs up mucus, doctors might send that for testing too.

How Is Coronavirus (COVID-19) Treated?

Doctors and researchers are working on medicines and a vaccine for coronavirus. Most people with the illness, including children, get better with rest, fluids, and fever-reducing medicine.

What Else Should I Know?

Keep doing these things to keep your family healthy:

  • Wash hands well and often.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Avoid contact with other people, especially those who are sick.
  • Avoid playdates with other children. 
  • Ask domestic staff to live in and isolate with your family, if that is an option.  

*Picturre: Courtesy

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