There’s a new virus in town and it’s reached our borders. What can we do to keep our kids safe?
Australia is a relatively isolated country and as such, the effects of the corona virus are still novel to us. However, with corona virus cases actively on the rise in Australia, we should be asking ourselves: how do we stay safe, and how do we keep our kids safe?
We’ve put together a Q-and-A containing some of the most common questions Australian parents have asked. We hope it helps.
ARE MY KIDS AT RISK?
With the majority of viruses, children fall into one of the most at-risk populations. However, in this case, their prior exposure to other, seasonal viruses means they are less at risk than you may think. Whilst they are still able to catch the virus, evidence compiled by ABC News shows that school-aged children are the population least affected by the virus.
The risk with kids, rather, is that they can be spreading the virus to more vulnerable populations – like their grandparents.
SHOULD I KEEP MY KIDS AT HOME?
The Australian government is encouraging social distancing as an effective way to slow the spread of the virus. For adults, that means reducing outside interactions as effectively as possible: working from home, calling friends instead of catching up for a coffee, and choosing to watch Netflix instead of going to the movies.
For parents, the division isn’t quite so clean-cut. There’s a question of how much playtime is okay, and whether playdates and attending school is riskier than it’s worth.
ARE PLAYDATES OKAY?
Yes – as long as guidelines are being followed. The New York Times provided several suggestions.
It’s important to keep the playdates small, and away from family members that are at high risk.
If the playdate occurs at home, encourage regular handwashing, and disinfectant the home and all toys before and after the playdate.
You may choose to have the playdate outside. Stay away from crowded areas, like museums or indoor parks, and choose a natural setting, like the beach or park, where there are fewer germs and people.
Ultimately, the worry isn’t just that your kids will catch the virus – but that they’ll spread it onto even more vulnerable members of the population.
SHOULD I SEND MY CHILD TO SCHOOL?
Although the government has enforced social distancing with regards to events with over 500 people, they have yet to implement mass school closures. There is no evidence that closing schools will contain the spread of the virus any more effectively than leaving them open, but it would undoubtedly have a severe social impact, forcing people to either stay home to look after children or make other arrangements.
If your child is unwell, do not send them to school. Otherwise, sending them to school does not pose a risk to their safety.
WHAT DO I DO IF MY CHILD HAS CORONAVIRUS?
The coronavirus symptoms are very similar to that of the flu: runny nose, sore throat, fever, and cough. If your child is displaying these symptoms, we recommend calling the coronavirus hotline at 1800 675 398, and they will provide you with further instructions.
STAY CALM AND STAY SAFE
The virus is affecting Australians in many ways, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Try your best to stay calm and stay safe – and remember to wash your hands.