We have been living with a global pandemic for almost two years now. It has become a part of our lived reality. With the progression of time, we have also gained more information about the virus and its wrath and feel better prepared to combat it. To avoid the novel coronavirus, follow a simple three-step routine of masking up, maintaining physical distance, and practising hand hygiene. We’ve all heard this a million times over the last two years, every time we went online or picked up our phones. However, it is natural to feel a little shaken when you hear that a dear friend or a family member has contracted the virus or is showing mild symptoms. Especially if it’s your own child or someone very young.
Logic goes out of the window and paranoia takes over all our senses. Feeling lost and helpless is natural but not necessary. As adults, we need to be there for our little munchkins both physically and emotionally. Guide and comfort them out of this ordeal that they have been unfortunately subjected to.
This blog is an attempt to give the parents and guardians some direction towards the steps and protocols they can undertake when their kids contract the novel coronavirus. Before proceeding, it is critical to state that the information provided in this blog should not be used in place of seeking proper medical care. It is strongly advised to seek the advice of a paediatrician or family doctor if your child starts showing any kind of flu-like symptoms.
There is mounting evidence that covid impacts adults and kids differently. Children are often found to be asymptomatic or only develop mild symptoms. While adults are more prone to developing a serious illness. While fever, cough, chills, muscle pain, tiredness, loss of taste and smell, runny nose and chest congestion are some of the common symptoms across age groups, it was found that there are also certain children-specific symptoms like skin rash, changes in the skin, such as discolored areas on the feet and hands. Additionally it also causes inflammation throughout the body and gives rise to multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). Children who develop MIS-C may have difficulty breathing, experience chest pressure or pain, or develop bluish lips or skin. This requires immediate medical attention and becomes difficult to manage at home. In the midst of a pandemic, special attention and care should be given to children who suffer from respiratory illnesses, have a heart condition, are immunocompromised, or are already receiving treatment for any chronic illness. Caregivers should keep their paediatrician and treating doctor informed of any unusual symptoms their child may exhibit.
We as parents can turn any tide with quick thinking, proper knowledge, and smart planning. When life throws a challenge at us, we should calm our nerves, and do our best to protect our children from all ills. As responsible adults, we must resist the temptation to believe that our children will not become infected with the virus and that we will be able to keep them safe at all times. We cannot see viruses with our naked eyes, and they can infiltrate our safe spaces despite our best efforts to keep them out.
In this blog, we will discuss certain measures that we can take if our children contract the virus. With these steps we can ensure that we follow the best possible path and eliminate the virus out of their system and our homes with minimal damage and within a short span of time.
- Isolate and protect
First and foremost, as and when your child shows any flu-like symptoms like runny nose, dry cough or low grade fever, isolate them immediately. If complete isolation is not possible then make sure to maintain appropriate physical distance from the symptomatic child.
If the child is unable to wear a mask, then it is critical for their caregiver to wear a mask at all times – while taking their vitals, bringing them food or comforting them through the night. Speak to a professional as soon as possible.Make an appointment with your family doctor or paediatrician and inform them of all of your child’s signs and symptoms. They are the best people to guide you through this difficult time.
Typically, the doctor will prescribe that an RT-pcr test be booked at the earliest, the result of which will take 24-48 hrs to come. Until then the child should be kept isolated and the entire family should be quarantined to prevent infecting more people.
- Keep the immunity and spirit high
A very common symptom of covid-19 is loss of smell and taste. This makes the food we eat distasteful and can cause a drop in our appetite. It is common knowledge that in case of any sickness, it is important that we build up our immunity so that it can fight off the virus. A drop in the immunity can prolong one’s suffering and worsen the symptoms. In that case, it is absolutely vital that we keep our child hydrated and energised during the course of their illness.
One hack is to give them small portions of food every two hours and serve them with a variety of healthy options every other day. In-between this ensure that they are adequately hydrated. Alternate between water, ORS, home-made fresh juices, chicken soup, vegetable soup and coconut water.
There are also a wide-range of healthy snacks to choose from that are easily available or can be simply made at home. Makhanas lightly tossed with ghee, pumpkin seeds, flax, chia seeds, almond, cashew, walnut and other kinds of nuts can be served between meals. A wholesome meal is what our kids need to fight this virus. Stick to a home-made balanced diet like dal, chawal, roti and seasonal veggies. Fruits and vegetables rich in zinc and vitamin-c like citrus fruits, lemon , okra, sweet corn, green peas, broccoli, spinach, and mushroom can be integrated into their everyday meals. Milk and eggs are some other good sources of zinc.
Post diagnosis make sure to speak to the consulting doctor and come up with a meal plan for your child. Observe what they like to eat and you can look for different and healthy ways to serve them to your child. A healthy and happy child can easily overcome the virus.
- Educate your child about the virus
The virus is everywhere. So is the information about it. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration if we say that every single human being on this planet has some degree of information about covid-19. However, consuming every piece of information that is out there can actually add to our fear. Alongwith the pandemic, we also need to protect our children from the ongoing infodemic. As our child will remain isolated for at least 14 days or until their symptoms completely go away, there is a possibility that they will spend most of their time cooped up with their gadgets and have access to the internet. They may then come across a video or an article that adds to their distress. As parents, we need to help them navigate this sea of information.
Once they contract the virus, it becomes even more important for us to give them the right information and nudge them towards adapting covid-appropariate behaviour for their safety and the safety of others. As destructive as the internet can be, there are also wonderful resources for parents, such as animated video explainers on how to talk to your children about covid without agitating them. These videos are entertaining to watch while learning about the otherwise terrifying covid-19. These videos and images can be used as a tool to begin a conversation with your child and help them understand their condition better.
At the same time, encourage your child to wear a mask in the presence of others, maintain proper hand hygiene and cover their nose and mouth while coughing and sneezing. Speak to them if they appear perplexed, encourage them to ask questions, and help them keep in touch with their best friend or their favourite teacher.
- Be mindful of your own health
Children can be difficult to handle. Especially when they are down with fever or are sick. They have to be constantly monitored by their caregiver. When caring for a child infected with the highly contagious viral infection coronavirus, extra caution is required. Because we can’t predict how the illness will progress, managing this novel virus causes a lot of anxiety for the parents. We are constantly worried and pull all the stops to comfort our child, putting our well being and protection on the back burner. This, however, will cause more harm than good.
When we see a loved one in pain, it is easy to forget that we can only care for them if we are healthy and safe ourselves. We forget to take care of our own needs while providing them the best care and ensuring that they eat healthy and on time.
When your child is sick with covid-19, it becomes equally important for the caregivers and other family members to take care of themselves and follow the same protocol and healthy dietary habits as the child. Do not skip your meals while caring for your child, parents equally need to keep their energy high. Ensure that the high touch surfaces are being cleaned with disinfectants regularly. Maintain proper ventilation inside the outside and the adult members should wear a mask, maintain physical distance from one another and maintain proper hand hygiene. Immediately isolate the family member who starts showing similar symptoms. Needless to say, all the family members and those who came in contact with the child should refrain from going outside for at least a period of 10 days and should watch their symptoms.
The infected child should be served food in a separate set of utensils and it should be cleaned with dishwashing gel and water after every meal. Double mask when you are in close quarters with the patient and wash your hands with soap and water after handling their utensils and clothes. In the room where the child has been isolated, proper ventilation should be maintained. Speak to a professional and find out about the correct preventative measures one can take while caring for a covid-19 patient and all the eligible family members should get vaccinated on their turn.
The last few months have been confusing and scary to say the least. We, as a country, have lived through two waves of deadly coronavirus. There is a chance that a third wave will hit us. With schools slowly reopening and the holiday season in full swing, fear is more prevalent than ever. However, by exercising good judgement and adhering to the covid protocol of wearing a mask when in a crowd and indoors, maintaining hand hygiene, and keeping a safe distance from symptomatic patients, one can protect their child and themselves from covid-19.