Schools in Pakistan are preparing to reopen for primary and middle levels. There is a rising concern among parents regarding the impact that current wave of Covid-19 can have on kids. At the same time, there are parents who consider the virus to be of lesser concern for young kids. Due to variance in data available from different countries, it is hard to tell the facts from myths about Covid-19 and kids. This article aims to prepare parents on updated facts about covid-19 and its potential effects on children. The facts are based on the recently issued guidelines by Center for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) and other official sources in Pakistan.
Covid-19 and kids: Understanding the Facts from Myths
The winter season is on the peak in Pakistan as well as most regions globally. This in turn has brought flu, cough, fever and infections around the corner. There is a blur line between coronavirus symptoms and seasonal flu. Knowing the difference between facts and myths can help parents prepare for appropriate response to potential illnesses.
MYTH: Covid-19 doesn’t affect Children
Probably the most harmful myth about covid-19! This has already led many families in Pakistan to recklessly take higher risks with children. Parents are taking children for vacations to northern areas, parks, malls and other recreational places. The myth exists due to the reason that children, mostly, have shown no to mild symptoms for Covid-19. At the same time they are easily spreading it to elders due to ignorance.
Fact: Covid-19 can spread easily from children to adults
WHO recommends children from age 2 onwards to wear a mask in public spaces and schools. This guideline is to protect them from the virus. Respiratory droplets from nose, mouth and body surface like hands can certainly transfer covid-19 from kids to adults, making them spread infection.
MYTH: Children get only flu like symptoms from Covid-19
Again a myth that is making many parents relax that their children cannot have any major impact from the virus. Most people believe that children get only flu, sore throat or runny nose from the virus.
FACT: Children from countries like Pakistan can face graver symptoms
While the data from first and second wave of Covid-19 shows relatively mild symptoms in children, the symptoms are not limited to flue and cough. Children are developing respiratory issues like shortness of breath, gastrointestinal diseases and in some cases, Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C) which affects whole body. This rare condition was observed during the latest wave in UK as well as in Pakistan. Moreover, during 2020, major cities like Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad reported children suffering from Kawasaki Disease (KD) post covid-19 infection. The disease results in high fever, severe rashes, swelling of body and redness of eyes. Therefore, while symptoms for covid-19 might be mild during the infection, their after effects are still unknown and can be life-threatening.
MYTH: Children should not wear masks for prolonged time
The awareness regarding safety and precautions for Covid-19 are widely ignored by adults in Pakistan. For children, there is a widely yet, falsely assumed concept that wearing masks for longer duration can suffocate them or damage their lungs.
FACT: Breathable material masks for Children are not harmful for longer durations
Wearing masks and sanitizing hands is the most effective way to control spread of virus to children and from them to adults. Wearing breathable material masks is highly recommended by WHO and Health ministry of Pakistan based on conclusive results. Using cloth face masks will not hamper your child’s breathing, lung development or learning at school.
MYTH: Mild Flu and fever are main symptoms of Covid-19 in Children
As mentioned earlier, children with covid-19 show no to mild symptoms compared to adults. However, many parents are unaware that in majority of cases, symptoms of covid-19 in children are different from adults.
FACT: Diarrhea and Vomiting are main signs of Covid-19 in children
While symptoms of flu, sore throat and lungs are more obvious signs, studies from Pakistan and around the globe showed that in children, most common signs of Covid-19 are diarrhea and vomiting. NHS from UK verified that children have more tendency to develop gastrointestinal diseases from Covid-19 infection and therefore, should be checked immediately by parents along with loss of taste and smell.
MYTH: Using Saline solution or Steam on regular basis can prevent Covid-19 in Children
Rinsing nose with saline solution or nebulizing with such solutions prevents respiratory issues in children especially in cold weather. However, effects of covid-19 are not limited to nasal or respiratory diseases.
FACT: Using Saline solution or Steam can reduce symptoms not prevent Covid-19
Since its winter in Pakistan, using saline solution or humidifiers can definitely help with preventing any congestion or lung problems in kids. However, it is not enough to keep the virus away. Covering mouth and nose with mask, using sanitizer or soap for disinfection and avoiding crowded places is the best way to prevent catching the virus.
MYTH: Antibiotics can treat Covid-19 in Kids
As a whole year passed by, there is now extensive research available on Covid-19 and kids. Data is enough to understand facts from myths. Traditionally, antibiotics are seen as a quick solution to throat infections, fever and lung problems. Parents have the tendency to consider covid-19 as a similar disease to typical lung and throat infections and therefore, they often resort to antibiotics for quick relief.
FACT: Coronavirus is a virus NOT bacteria
Just because symptoms of covid-19 and other bacterial diseases are same, does not mean they are same. Covid-19 is a virus and antibiotics do not work on virus but bacteria. Do not give your child antibiotics to resolve the issue. Instead get medical help for treatment of virus. If symptoms are mild, children normally recover on their own and if there is any bacteria coexisting with Covid-19, only then doctors can suggest suitable antibiotics.
MYTH: Feeding Honey, Garlic or Black Cumin will protect children from Covid-19
The benefits of honey, garlic, ginger, black cumin/seeds etc. are undeniable by even allopathic fraternity. They are generally helpful in boosting immunity and prevention for various diseases. However, many parents, especially in Pakistan are entirely relying on these home remedies while ignoring the warnings against public exposure of children.
FACT: Feeding Honey, Garlic or Black Cumin does not guarantee protection against Covid-19
Adopting healthy eating habits and specifically products that boost immunity is a much needed step today for both kids and adults. However, there is no scientific research or data which proves that any of these remedies have protected children or adults against Covid-19. Therefore, parents should follow the guidelines provided by health organizations regarding Covid-19 for safety of their children along with home remedies.