Teach your kids to wash their hands frequently. (Source: Getty Images)
Ever since the outbreak of coronavirus, parents have understandably been concerned about their children being affected. Children are active and exposed to various surroundings, from schools to playgrounds, so one would ideally ensure taking the right measures to protect them from being infected.
Express Parenting spoke to Dr Vinay Joshi, consultant Paediatrician, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Mumbai, to know about precautionary steps that parents need to keep in mind before sending kids outdoors, where they are bound to come in contact with others.
"First and foremost, we do not need to panic but yes, we do need to take precautionary measures," stated Dr Joshi. The most important precautionary measure is 20 seconds handwashing, in which you wash the back of your hands, between the fingers and under the nails as well, advised Dr Joshi. The hands should be washed properly with soap and water or an alcohol-based handrub. "We need to teach our children the right way to wash their hands. That is the best way to prevent acquriring infection," he said.
Children can carry good alcohol-based hand sanitisers to school, suggested the paediatrician. They should also try and avoid too much physical contact like hugging or shaking hands, especially if a classmate shows symptoms of flu. Experts suggest coronavirus could be transmitted through hand contact with a person who is infected.
If there is a child who has travelled from another country with reported cases of coronavirus, parents should ideally avoid sending them to school for a while to prevent further transmission, Dr Joshi recommended. If the child shows symptoms, seek medical attention.
School authorities can also play a role in keeping the kids safe by cleaning table surfaces and benches, floors and doors with a detergent or antiseptic.
Children should be taught cough and sneezing etiquette. "Normally when children sneeze or cough, they do not cover their mouth. They should be taught to cover their mouth either with a handkerchief or sleeves of their attire while coughing or sneezing to prevent the spread of infection to other people," Dr Joshi emphasised.
Routine precautions like handwashing, staying at clean hotels and eating from clean places are essential when you are travelling with kids. "Focus on well-cooked hot food, especially when it's meat. Coronavirus has been seen in animals. So ensuring you eat properly cooked food is important," mentioned Dr Joshi.
At birthday parties, tuition
If a child has flu-like symptoms or has travelled to one of the countries where coronavirus has spread, they should not be sent to gatherings such as parties or tuition. "Parents should be more alert and not send their children to these places if they are affected and seek medical attention. Other children should follow regular precautions like handwashing or covering the mouth while sneezing or coughing," advised the paediatrician.