Coronavirus: Is it safe to take your kids to daycare, and other questions parents ask

"Influenza is a serious and too-often risky infection, more so than many people believe."
"Influenza is a serious and too-often risky infection, more so than many people believe."

As the first confirmed case of Covid-19 was announced parents around South Africa reacted in panic, with many reaching out to us with questions about the safety of their children.

Here we answer some reader questions. 

Are children at increased risk from Covid-19 infection, compared to adults?

According to the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) there have been very few reports of children being diagnosed with Covid-19 to date, but it seems that the children who do have it present with mild symptoms, such as a cough and a runny nose.

Children with underlying health conditions may be at increased risk, as they would be with other respiratory illnesses. 

Under 1% of the thousands of confirmed cases in China were in children aged nine years or younger, and no deaths were reported in this age group.

Just 1% of cases reported were in children in the 10 to 19 age group.

Is it safe to send my child to daycare, or school?

Yes, until otherwise alerted by the authorities. 

Dr Carol Bosch advised us that if there was to be an outbreak it would be a good idea to keep younger kids out of preschool or to avoid gatherings that are not completely necessary for them to attend. 

Learn more here: Coronavirus: Will South African schools be closing, and what will that mean to parents?

I've ordered baby goods from China, are they safe to use?

It seems unlikely that the virus can survive outside the body for extended periods, so packages sent from the East in the last few weeks should be safe to open.

WHO also says the likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low. 

Nonetheless, if you are concerned, wash or sterilise the products before you expose them to your baby. 

Are pregnant women at increased risk, compared with the general public?

This information is not available yet, but since pregnant women experience so many changes while pregnant, they may become more susceptible to viral respiratory infections, including Covid-19.

Can a pregnant woman infect her baby in the womb?

From one small study, research suggests that the Covid-19 virus cannot be transmitted from an infected pregnant woman to her unborn baby.

In the study, the nine women developed pneumonia in their third trimester, as a result of their infection, but gave birth to healthy babies.

Can a mother infect her breastfed baby?

The CDC reiterates that person-to-person spread occurs mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, much like how flu and other respiratory pathogens spread.

In the few studies on women with this and other coronavirus infections, the virus has not been detected in breast milk.

However it is not known whether mothers with Covid-19 can transmit the virus via breast milk.

For more information on this strain of the coronavirus, visit Health24: Coronavirus 101 – what you need to know

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