Get the facts of how this disease affects the young ones and what parents should know so as to keep their children safe.
Symptoms of COVID-19
The common symptoms are: fever, dry cough, fatigue, nasal congestion, runny nose, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Most children have mild symptoms or are asymptomatic. Although less common in children than adults, children can also suffer from severe complications like pneumonia and respiratory distress.
Within family clusters in Singapore, there is no evidence that the child is the first person to contract the virus. Instead, it is usually the other way round, where adults are the ones infecting children.
A study* on 2.143 children infected with COVID-19 in China shows that:
50.9% experienced mild symptoms
38.8% had moderate symptoms
4.4% had no symptoms
5.9% were serious cases
The proportion of serious cases in children was well below that of adults.
Serious COVID-19 cases
Reports from Europe and North America described clusters of children and adolescents requiring admission to intensive care units for multi-system inflammatory conditions with some features similar to those of Kawaski disease and toxic shock syndrome.
MIS-C (multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children) is a condition where different body organs become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastro-intestinal organs.
There is no definitive cure for COVID-19 at the moment, with treatments largely supportive in nature. These include adequate rest, hydration and supplementary oxygen or respiratory support.
Will influenza vaccine protect my child from COVID-19?
The answer is no. Influenza vaccine protects against seasonal influenza A and B, but not COVID-19.
However it is still recommended for children between 6 months and 5 years of age to get their yearly influenza vaccinations.
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States have reported a worrying increase in the number of deaths in children in the current 2019 - 2020 influenza season.
Should I keep my child away from preschool?
There is minimal data on preschool spread for authorities to make a recommendation.
Preschoolers, especially below the age of 3, are at higher risks of acquiring acute respiratory infections because of prolonged and close proximity contact with large congregation of children. The frequency of viral infections acquired at preschool reduces significantly after the first year of continued attendance.
In addition, with the recent heightened standards of hand, surface and air hygiene, the spread of viral infections within schools should be reduced.
Should I avoid clinics or hospitals entirely, or continue to follow-up on my child’s routine vaccination or chronic illnesses?
It is important for your child to still get the mandatory, routine childhood vaccinations.
They should also continue with their scheduled follow up appointments for their chronic medical conditions. However, other non-urgent medical consults should be postponed.
By : Dr Chen Yiming
Family Physician, MBBS (Singapore), GDFM (NUS), GDFP Dermatology (NUS)