BENGALURU: An epidemic like the Coronavirus, now declared by WHO as a public health emergency of international concern, can be quite frightening for anyone. The virus originated in Wuhan, China, and has already killed over 300 people in the country and infected another 14,300. Worse, it has travelled to more than two dozen countries around the world, including India. Two confirmed cases of Coronavirus have been reported from Kerala.
The symptoms of coronavirus infection can range from a simple cough with fever or shortness of breath to serious infection, such as bronchitis or pneumonia. Here are a few things you can do to keep yourself and your children safe from acquiring an infection:
Person to person transmission
Coronavirus spreads through transmission from one person to another such as through droplets while coughing and sneezing from an infected person. These droplets can stay on fomites like door handle, metro seats etc for four to five days. Parents should ensure their children use proper medical grade masks, especially when travelling through crowded places with a risk of infection, or even when communicating with strangers on the road. They should avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough as infected person need not have any symptoms.
Self-medicating without proper instructions from a doctor can land you in trouble and cause problems for your entire health system. It is advisable to take your children to a doctor immediately if they complain of headache or if you notice symptoms such as fever, cough and difficulty breathing.
Avoid unnecessary travel
Avoid unnecessary travel to any country, or even different states in India, till the threat subsides. Children are most prone to catching viruses, so restricting their travel and contact with strangers will reduce the chances of infection. China has already issued a ban on visit of most foreign nationals.
Avoid crowded places
Avoid taking or sending your children to crowded places such as local markets, shopping malls, playgrounds or even metro trains or buses. Viruses are easily transmitted from one person to another at crowded locations.
Increasing your children’s fluid intake is very important in such times. Drinking plenty of water can help keep viruses at bay as a dry throat makes it easier for viruses to enter one’s system.
Avoid raw meat
Uncooked or raw meat should be avoided. This can result in severe illness that come from animals, so one should ensure that the meat is cooked properly since coronaviruses are sensitive to heat.
Maintain good hygiene
Cleanings hand before eating food and taking a bath after playing outside is essential for kids. They should regularly clean their hands with soap and take care not to touch their face with unclean hands. It is advisable to avoid hugs or kisses around this time.The author is a paediatrician and MD of Radhakrishna Multispecialty Hospital, Bengaluru