Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness spreading in communities across the country. The elderly and people with compromised immune systems are more likely to suffer serious consequences from the illness. So far, there’s no evidence that children are more susceptible to COVID-19. But it’s still vital for parents to practice the proper prevention with their children.
New information continues to emerge about COVID-19 and the response to the virus is evolving. For updates, check YNHH.org or the CDC website.
Q & A:
What preventative measures should parents take?
Proper hand washing is one of the most important steps everyone can take, including kids, to reduce the spread of germs.
"Wash your hands, wash your hands, and then wash your hands," said Thomas Murray, MD, PhD, a Yale Medicine pediatric infectious disease specialist. “Kids like to touch their face. Your nose, mouth, and eyes are all portals of entry for viruses into your body.”
Kids with respiratory symptoms should also stay away from people who are sick, especially older individuals and those with underlying health problems. Children should stay home if they get sick. Since COVID-19 can be transmitted by touching objects and surfaces, keep those areas clean.
“We recommend cleaning surface areas with products that are documented disinfectants, like Lysol, or bleach-based products for surfaces that can handle bleach,” Dr. Murray said.
How should parents prepare?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending parents create a plan of action. That includes creating an emergency contact list, plan to care for family members who might be at a greater risk of complications, be prepared if schools or childcare facilities close and plan for changes at work. If a child does become sick, parents will need to notify their child’s school.
When should a parent call the doctor?
Call your provider or the YNHH COVID-19 line at 833-ASK-YNHH (833-275-9644) if you know your child has been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, or if she/he has a high fever and severe cough or worsening respiratory symptoms.
“Available information suggests the virus appears to be mild in children, and there are no available therapies today. Care for the infection is directed toward the symptoms: Tylenol, ibuprofen, and hydration with fluids, like chicken soup,” Dr. Murray said.
Families should avoid the emergency room unless their child urgently requires care. This will keep emergency services available for the children who need help right away, while protecting others who are at risk.
Do COVID-19 symptoms differ from flu symptoms?
COVID-19 presents respiratory illness with symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath. Flu symptoms are similar, and usually come on suddenly. Flu symptoms include fever higher than 100.5 degrees, extreme exhaustion, muscle or body aches, and chills. The flu, particularly influenza B, has hit children across the country hard this year.
If influenza is diagnosed early, within the first 48 hours, then there are medicines that may help your child get better faster.
“It doesn’t get rid of the flu all together, but it can make your child feel better a little faster,” Dr. Murray said.
Call 833-ASK-YNHH (833-275-9644).
Yale New Haven Health is offering a call center for patients and the community who have questions about COVID-19. Healthcare professionals from the health system are available to answer your specific questions 7 days a week, 7 am – 7 pm.
Yale New Haven Health includes Bridgeport Hospital, Greenwich Hospital, Lawrence + Memorial Hospital, Westerly Hospital, Yale New Haven Hospital, which includes Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital, and Northeast Medical Group.