Coronavirus (COVID-19): What Parents Should Know
How to protect you and your children.
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1. How is COVID-19 spread?
The virus is transmitted by direct contact with droplets from the breath that an infected person can expel when coughing or sneezing, or by touching surfaces contaminated by the virus. COVID-19 can survive on a surface for several hours, but it can be removed with simple disinfectants.
2. What are the symptoms of the coronavirus?
Fever, cough, and respiratory failure are some of its symptoms. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia or breathing difficulties. In rare cases, the disease can be fatal.
These symptoms are similar to those of the flu or the common cold, which are much more common than COVID-19. For this reason, to know if a person is infected it is necessary to do a test. It is important to bear in mind that the main prevention measures for COVID-19 are the same as those for the flu: wash your hands frequently and take care of respiratory hygiene (cover your mouth or nose with your elbow flexed or with a handkerchief when coughing or sneezing and disposing of the tissue in closed trash). In addition, for the flu, there is a vaccine, so it is important that both you and your child are up to date with their vaccination schedule.
3. How can I avoid the risk of infection?
These are four precautions that you and your family can take to avoid contagion:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a bent elbow or a tissue when coughing or sneezing and dispose of the tissue in closed trash.
- Avoid direct contact with a person who has a cold or flu symptoms.
- See a doctor if you have a fever, cough, or shortness of breath.
4. Should I wear a mask?
The use of a mask is recommended in the presence of respiratory symptoms (coughing or sneezing) to protect other people. If there are no symptoms, you do not need to wear a mask.
If you wear a mask, you must use it and dispose of it properly to guarantee its effectiveness and avoid the risk of transmitting the virus.
However, the use of the mask is not enough to stop the contagion. You need to wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and avoid direct contact with a person who has a cold or has flu-like symptoms (cough, sneeze, or fever).
5. Does COVID-19 affect children?
It is a new virus and there is not yet enough information about how it affects children or pregnant women. It is known that anyone can be infected, regardless of age, but relatively few cases of COVID-19 have been recorded among children so far. The disease is rarely fatal, and so far the fatalities have been elderly people already suffering from a disease.
6. What should I do if my child has symptoms of COVID-19?
You should seek medical help, but don't forget that it is flu season in the Northern Hemisphere and that some symptoms of COVID-19, such as a cough or fever, can be similar to those of the flu or the common cold, which are a lot more frequent.
It is important to maintain good hygiene and hand practices, such as frequent hand washing, as well as keeping up with their immunization schedule so that your child is protected against other viruses and bacteria that can cause illness.
As with other respiratory infections such as the flu, you should seek medical help as soon as you or your child begin to have symptoms and avoid going to public places (such as the workplace, school, or public transport) so as not to infect others persons.
7. What should I do if a member of my family has symptoms?
If you or your child have a fever, cough, or trouble breathing, you should see a medical professional as soon as possible. You can call your doctor in advance if you have traveled to an area where cases of the new coronavirus have been registered or if you have been in close contact with a person who has traveled from one of these areas and has respiratory symptoms.
8. Should my children stop going to school?
If your child has symptoms, ask a medical professional for help and follow their instructions. However, as with other respiratory infections such as the flu, it is recommended that your child stay home resting if he has symptoms and avoid going to public places so as not to infect other people.
If your child is not exhibiting any symptoms such as fever or cough, and unless there is a public health advisory, important warning, or other public statements regarding their school, it is best to keep going to class.
Instead of leaving him at home, teach him proper respiratory and hand hygiene habits to practice both at school and elsewhere: wash his hands frequently (see below), cover his mouth and nose when coughing or sneeze with a bent elbow or a tissue and dispose of the tissue in closed trash, and do not touch your eyes, hands, or nose without having previously washed your hands well.
9. What is the best way to wash your hands?
- Step 1: Wet your hands with water.
- Step 2: Apply a sufficient amount of soap on wet hands.
- Step 3: rub the entire surface of the hands, including the back, the space between the fingers, and under the nails, for a minimum of 20 seconds.
- Step 4: rinse well with water.
- Step 5: Dry your hands with a clean cloth or single-use towel.
Wash your hands frequently, especially before eating, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, and after using the bathroom.
If you don't have soap and water, use a disinfectant that contains at least 60% alcohol. If your hands are visibly dirty, always wash them with soap and water.
10. What precautions should my family and I take if we travel?
Anyone who plans to travel abroad should always consult the alert for travelers in the country of destination in order to find out about entry restrictions, the probability that a quarantine has been decreed when entering the country, or any other warning for travelers that is pertinent.
In addition to the precautions that should normally be taken when traveling, and to avoid being quarantined or denied entry to your home country, we also advise you to check the latest COVID-19 update on the website of the International Air Transport Association, which includes a list of countries and restrictive measures.
While traveling, all parents should follow the standardized hygiene measures that are recommended for themselves and their children: wash their hands frequently or use an alcohol-based disinfectant with a minimum of 60% alcohol, practice good respiratory hygiene (covering your mouth and nose with a bent elbow or a tissue when coughing or sneezing and throwing away the used tissue immediately) and avoiding close contact with anyone who is coughing or sneezing. In addition, it is recommended that parents always carry a hand sanitizer, a pack of tissues and sanitizing wipes.
Another important recommendation is to clean the seat, armrest, touch screen, etc. with a disinfectant wipe once you are inside an airplane or other vehicle. Also use a disinfectant wipe to clean the surfaces of keys, doorknobs, remote controls, etc. at the hotel or other accommodation where you and your children are.
11. Can a pregnant woman transmit the virus to her fetus?
At the moment there is not enough evidence to determine if the virus can be transmitted from mothers to fetuses during pregnancy, and neither the consequences that this can have later in the baby. It is a matter that is being investigated. Pregnant women should continue to take adequate precautions to protect themselves from exposure to the virus and seek medical assistance if symptoms such as fever, cough, or breathing difficulties begin to occur.
12. Is it safe for a coronavirus infected mother to breastfeed her baby?
Any mother who is in a risk area affected by the virus and has symptoms such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing should seek medical assistance as soon as possible and follow the instructions of a health professional.
Considering the benefits of breastfeeding and the low relevance of breast milk in the context of the transmission of other respiratory viruses, the mother can continue to breastfeed her baby as long as she takes all necessary precautions.
If a mother has symptoms, but is well enough to breastfeed her baby, she should wear a mask whenever she is near him (for example, while breastfeeding), wash her hands before and after having contact with the child ( also while breastfeeding), and cleaning or disinfecting surfaces that may be contaminated. These precautionary measures must be followed at all times if a person who knows they are infected with COVID-19 or suspects that they may be infected with other people, such as children.
If a mother is very ill, it is recommended that she express the milk to give it to the baby in a cup and / or with a clean spoon, following the same infection prevention measures at all times.
13. What is UNICEF doing to help?
UNICEF's current response is to assist the Government of China and countries in the East Asia and Pacific region, where the majority of cases have been reported to date. Since January 29, UNICEF has shipped 13 tons of supplies, such as protective suits, masks, goggles, and gloves for health workers. New shipments are being prepared and UNICEF is stockpiling supplies in advance at key locations.
Given the unpredictable nature of the virus and its constant spread, UNICEF is also working with governments, World Health Organization counterparts, and other partners to develop contingency plans in other regions, especially in countries with more health systems. fragile and with limited capacity to cope with outbreaks of serious diseases.
On February 17, UNICEF made an appeal for 42.3 million dollars to increase aid aimed at containing the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. The first funds will go towards strengthening some of the tasks that are part of UNICEF's work to reduce the transmission of the virus, such as communicating about risks and combating disinformation, so that children, pregnant women, and their families learn about ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and where to go for help.