Malaysia was shocked with the recent death of a 1 year old girl due to Covid-19 or the coronavirus . It was the first death involving an infant due to the pandemic. As of 16th May 2020, 317 Covid-19 positive cases were reported among children aged 12 years and below, with Selangor recording the highest statistics.
A scientific research published in the Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases (2010), coronavirus infection among children is very unlikely. The Italian scientists who conducted the research stated that the infection caused by HCoV (human coronavirus) in children will only cause respiratory tract infections. Though the number of reported Covid-19 cases among children is relatively low, this does not mean that our children are risk-free of this pandemic.
Why are children less affected by Covid-19?
These are some of the reasons why the Covid-19 infection among babies and children is low:
- Exposure to the virus
The spread of Covid-19 normally takes place at hospitals and public places. This is the main reason why most health workers and adults are more susceptible to the virus, compared to children. That is why children are not allowed to visit patients at hospitals or have any physical contact with them.
2.Stronger antibody to fight HCoV
Children aged 2.5 to 3.5 years are said to have stronger antibodies to fight Covid-19 as compared to more grown children and adolescents.
Should I get COVID-19 test for my children?
Though children may be asymptomatic to Covid-19, they are not completely immune to the virus and can be badly affected if not detected at an earlier stage. Some children who may not display any symptoms may be hosting the virus and can pose danger to others who are risky.
It is best for you to consult a paediatrician about getting your children to be tested for COVID-19. The doctor can help determine when testing may be a good idea based on infection rates and availability of tests in your area as well as follow up on test results.
When testing may be advised
Generally, children with symptoms of Covid-19 should be tested promptly to determine if they have an active infection. This is especially crucial if they are participating in school, sports or jobs in-person so steps can be taken to find out who may have been exposed. Testing is also recommended before a child is scheduled for medical procedures such as surgery.
For children who had close contact or been less than 6 feet for at least 15 minutes from a person with confirmed or probable case of Covid-19, it is best to wait at least 4 days after exposure to be tested, unless they have symptoms of an infection.
Types of COVID-19 tests
There are currently two main types of COVID-19 tests: diagnostic tests and antibody tests. Your pediatrician can talk with you about what each test can and cannot do, and when tests can be most useful.
A diagnostic or viral test can show if your child currently has a COVID-19 infection. This type of testing may be used if you know your child was exposed to COVID-19 to a close contact. In this case, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or molecular test will be conducted using a nasal, throat swab or saliva sampling. The results can be acquired on the same day or up to a week later. The molecular test is very accurate and tells you if your child presently has Covid-19.
An antibody (serology) test checks a sample of your child’s blood for special proteins called antibodies. Antibody tests help show whether someone’s immune system has been infected by Covid-19 in the past, even if there were no symptoms, but it cannot detect a current COVID-19 infection.
Prevention is better than cure
Here are some practical care tips to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 and other viruses among our children:
- Nurture personal hygiene in the family
Encourage our children to practice the habit of washing their hands correctly with soap and water before eating, after using the washroom, when coughing or sneezing, after touching their pets etc.
2. Though scientists have discovered the exposure to certain bacteria in the soil is good for children, you should observe your children when they are playing at the playground. This is because an open wound can invite infection from other viruses and bacteria such as tetanus.
3. Fury pets like rabbits, hamster, cats and dogs are adorable. However, their faeces, saliva and fur may hose bacteria, viruses and parasites and harmful to humans. On top of that, toys and pet’s feeding containers may be breeding grounds for bacteria such as Salmonella and E.coli. Hence, personal hygiene is fundamental.4.
4. Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize
Avoid touching escalator handles, elevator buttons, video arcade, food court tables– well, in fact everything in public places like shopping complexes with your finger tips. Also make it a habit to sanitize the shopping trolley’s handle and seat, toilet and child seats before using them.
5. Nutrition and healthy lifestyles
Boosting yours and your children’s immunity is key to reduce the risk of Covid-19 infection. Serve your family more fruits and vegetables, sleeping sufficiently, try to breastfeed your baby, exercise as a family, stop smoking and banish secondhand smoke, guard against germ spread and connect more with nature while observing your social distancing.