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It is almost impossible to avoid all the talk of coronavirus right now. Are you concerned? Coronavirus (or COVID-19 to give it its scientific name) is the virus on everyone’s mind right now. It has dominated the news and front pages of every major newspaper this last few weeks. But what do I tell my children about the coronavirus? What is the most appropriate way of dealing with this news without scaring them?
What Do I Tell My Children About The Coronavirus?
COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus. This means it was previously unknown to medicine before first being reported in December 2019. It is known to have originated in China, and is currently spreading worldwide.
The symptoms of COVID-19 have been reported to be similar to SARS or MERS. It is a flu-like illness presenting with a fever, aches, then a dry cough. Most people suffer this virus and then it is just a matter of time before they get better. There are currently no cures for the virus, you simply need to treat the symptoms.
However, in certain people the symptoms become worse. They suffer severe respiratory problems, and need medical care to recover. The virus is particularly serious for the elderly, immunocompromised patients and people with underlying medical conditions.
So How Do We Confront The News With Our Children?
Here in the UK we have had a small number of cases (35 to date – and going up daily). This is still quite a small number.
However, the World Health Organisation has declared the virus to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. ( Here are their updates on the virus) And most governments have put information out as to what will happen if the disease does break out in their country.
Here in the UK we have seen buildings including health centres and schools close to be deep cleansed. And you may have been contacted by your school or nursery over what they intend to do should a case present. In fact, some schools have issued students with antibacterial gel in preparation. There is a lot of information out there about when you should self isolate, and what your rights are if you do need to take time off due to being in isolation. So there are a lot of people claiming that we are overreacting.
Are We Over-reacting?
As with any world news, there are always conflicting reports. News agencies have certainly been accused of overreacting in their coverage of the spread of the disease. At the same time, there have been other claims that reporting of the spread of the disease is being suppressed. How concerned should we really be?
Yes, you can put the spin on this disease of saying that the standard flu has caused a lot more illness globally this year than COVID-19.
However, Covid-19 has not reached the full spreading potential of the standard flu virus as of yet. So this may be a little bit of a skewed perspective. I don’t think we should be trivialising this possible outbreak. Just do our best to keep preventing it.
We are doing a lot to prevent the spread of coronavirus so far. And it is only by maintaining hygiene and putting measures in place to prevent the spread that we are stopping the coronavirus from becoming a global issue.
I will be honest, I just think that we need to be sensible and take healthy precautions. Which means encouraging good practices ourselves to prevent the spread. Let’s face it, it prevents the spread of other germs too.
We Need To Have Age Appropriate Conversations With Our Child
My little girl is 4. And so the most important message I have relayed to her is that there is a nasty bug going around that we need to stop spreading.
Most children under 10 have thus far seemed to recover well from the disease, and so I have stressed that she will recover if she does get coronavirus. However, we do need to do our bit to prevent the virus spreading, as the virus can be particularly hazardous for the older generations of our family.
The way we stop the spreading is by
- washing our hands and keeping good hand hygiene.
- not touching our faces too much.
- coughing and sneezing into tissues (or the crook of our elbows) and binning tissues responsibly.
- staying at home if we do feel ill.
I have made a hand gel holder for her school bag and we have hand gel. (or you can make your own) When we get in the house we immediately wash our hands. And it goes without saying that we wash our hands before eating.
It is important that as parents we are good role models to our children. So we need to be doing all these things ourselves.
For a start, consider these hygiene facts about behaviour in the average workplace. It is certainly worth bringing better practices into the office!
Not Everyone Who Coughs And Sneezes Has Coronavirus!
Children tend to focus in on just one message. So I have emphasised the hand hygiene over all other messages. I think that this is the most important thing to tell our children about the coronavirus, that washing hands kills it! If your child does want to ask questions, keep it simple and do not over elaborate, as this may cause them to be anxious.
They may worry that anyone who coughs and sniffles around them has the virus. It is important to stress that not all coughs are the coronavirus. But that if they are concerned, to stay away from someone who is ill, and keep washing their hands regularly.
I personally do believe that being forewarned is being forearmed. And to just deal with this possible outbreak rationally. If we are all prepared for it, and do our best to prevent the spread, then that is all we can do.
Since this post was written, there have been a lot of developments. The UK current advice is to stay at home unless you really need to go out. Need to know how to stay positive during quarantine? See this post.
Or running out of certain items such as hand gel and toilet paper? See this post for some things you can make at home that will help during the shortages.
Are you concerned? Have you done anything to prepare for in case the coronavirus comes to your area? I would love your comments. Tell me what you think below, or find me on social media.
(Update August 2020 – have I had the virus? I am suffering from some strange symptoms, which could mean that I am a ‘long hauler’)
And please do pin this post for later.