Cases are rising once again as Omicron is now the dominant variant spreading throughout the world. You might have noticed numerous posts on social media about friends, relatives, and colleagues getting sick and testing positive. It’s understandable why we’re all under a lot of stress and worry. This virus is highly transmissible and even the healthiest people can get infected. What we can do now is to minimize the risk, and be prepared if it does infect our loved ones.
The Philippine Pediatric Society released a guide for parents on how to prevent infection among kids and what to do if your child tests positive. We highlighted and summarized some of the most important points from this guide, so you can get a head start in reading. You may find a link to the actual document below, should you wish to read it. We hope this helps you out! We are in this together!
Mask wearing, physical distancing, and proper hand washing are the most basic healthy and safety measures proven to help reduce the transmission of COVID 19. Always keep these three rules in mind to stay as safe as possible.
Ask for contactless delivery for your food, grocery, and online shopping orders. If you will need to receive visitors, limit the amount of interaction time and always observe a distance of at least one meter or six feet away.
Mask wearing is recommended for children who are two years old and above only. Make sure the mask covers the nose and under the chin, and it fits snugly on the sides. If your child is below two years of age, mask wearing is not recommended because of the risk of suffocation. Parents and caregivers must always wear masks when stepping out of the house and when accommodating visitors who are not members of your household. Make sure to wear effective face masks like N95, surgical masks, or cloth masks that have multiple layers and a high thread count.
Don’t forget to teach your kids about proper hand washing to keep the virus away! Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (or two rounds of singing Happy Birthday), maybe you can even wash hands to the tune of your child’s favorite nursery rhyme. Using 70% alcohol is also ideal for proper hand hygiene.
The Philippine Pediatric Society reiterates that “the virus spreads through droplets from coughing, sneezing, talking, and even through regular breathing.” That is why it is highly important to cover the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. Show your kids how to cough and sneeze by covering their mouth and nose with a tissue paper if available. If you don’t have tissues on hand, cover the mouth and nose using the upper arm or elbow. Make sure to disinfect your hands with 70% alcohol or soap and water after you cough or sneeze.
Frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, tables, handles, countertops, and the like must be cleaned at least once a day. According to the Philippine Pediatric Society’s guide, you may use household cleaners or disinfectants like household bleach, hydrogen peroxide, 70-90% ethyl/isopropyl alcohol to eliminate viruses and bacteria. Make sure to check the label and read instructions on proper use of disinfectants and keep these chemicals away from the kids. After disinfecting high-touch surfaces, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.
Adequate airflow is key in saying goodbye to viral particles! Ensure proper ventilation at home by opening windows and doors if it is safe to do so, and place a fan directed to an open window. You may also use air purifiers to improve ventilation and filter out lingering airborne viral particles. Fresh air is your friend!
While we are still in the middle of a surge in cases, it is best to stay at home where there are lesser chances of getting infected. There are lots of ways to make staying indoors fun and productive. Stock up on puzzles, board games, arts and crafts activities, and family movies (if you allow screen time already). As much as we would love for kids to attend school in-person and to play with their friends, being safe is the better choice right now. If you are experiencing symptoms, be sure to stay at home regardless of test results and vaccination status.
The most common symptoms are fever, cough, and colds. According to the Philippine Pediatric Society, in some cases there may also be a presence of “decreased appetite, difficulty breathing, vomiting, watery stool, abdominal pain, sore throat, muscle pain, loss of smell, loss of taste, headache, rashes, and seizure.”
Infection is considered mild when there is no evidence of pneumonia, moderate when there is manifestation of pneumonia such as coughing, and difficulty breathing. Watch out for severe signs such as discoloration or bluish appearance of the child, oxygen level below 94%, inability to breastfeed, difficulty breathing, and convulsions. Proceed to the emergency room and contact your doctor immediately in this case.
RT PCR testing is the gold standard and most reliable as it indicates the presence of the virus whether you are symptomatic or asymptomatic. You must get tested if you are: exhibiting symptoms of COVID 19, are a close contact of someone who tested positive or is a probable case, and if you are directly caring for a patient with COVID-19. If your child is asymptomatic but was exposed to a person who tested positive, it is best to take a test 5 to 7 days after exposure. Immediately isolate your child at the onset of symptoms regardless of test results and vaccination status. Isolate other members of your household as well to avoid the virus spreading further.
Always be sure to consult your doctor whether or not you have your test results already. Your pediatrician is there to support you and guide you through the best course of treatment for your child. Symptoms manifest differently in every person, so it is best to have the guidance of a professional.
Home care may be recommended for children experiencing mild symptoms such as a fever less than or equal to 38 degrees Celsius, cough, colds, diarrhea, sore throat, headache, loss of smell or taste, and decrease in appetite. Check your child’s temperature every four hours. Use a pulse oximeter to check oxygen levels every six hours, and watch out for any changes in breathing patterns. Have your child drink lots of water, keep resting, and eat healthy food. Use medication prescribed by your pediatrician.
Make sure your child stays in their own room with a bathroom so as not to expose other members of your household. Assign one capable and healthy person to take care of your child. It could be you, your partner, or a caregiver. Always wear proper protective equipment such as masks, and gloves when tending to your child and while handling items they use such as utensils. Have separate plates, spoons, forks, and cups solely for your child while they are sick. Wash hands often with soap and water or 70% alcohol.
If your child is asymptomatic or is only experiencing mild symptoms, isolation must last for 10 days. According to the Department of Health, you may stop home isolation on the 10th day, provided that your child is no longer manifesting any symptoms during the last 3 days of isolation. If the case is moderate or severe, the advised period of isolation is 21 days, regardless of vaccination status, or as recommended by your doctor.
Nursing Moms who test positive for COVID 19 or are manifesting symptoms can still continue to breastfeed. Skin-to-skin contact is also recommended especially right after birth. Just make sure to wash your hands before and after breastfeeding and always wear a mask during a feeding sessions. If you choose to express milk for bottle feeding instead, be sure to use your own pump. Wear a mask while expressing milk, and wash your hands with soap and water before and after handling the pump and baby bottles. Clean your pump after every use and safely store your breast milk in sealable bags or bottles in the freezer.
As stated in the Philippine Pediatric Society’s guide, once your child recovers, you may disinfect the room they were occupying, but it’s best to wait after 24 hours before doing so. If you can wait up to three days before cleaning, even better. If you must clean the room immediately, disinfect as if the patient is still occupying the room. If you’re disinfecting after 24 hours, be sure to clean the frequently touched surfaces. If you will clean the room after three days, you may practice your regular cleaning routine.
Once primary vaccination doses and boosters are available for you, get them if you are able to. Vaccines are the best way to prevent further transmission and mutation of the virus. Immunization is our weapon in defeating the virus once and for all! If your child cannot get vaccinated yet, you can achieve immunity by having majority of your household vaccinated. If you are immunized yourself, you can protect your family, too.
Staying is the safest course of action for now. Try to do most of your shopping online, if possible. Limit trips to buying necessities like medicine and food. Avoid bringing your kids to crowded places like malls and restaurants for now as cases are still on the rise. Once the situation stabilizes, and authorities give us the go signal again, then maybe a trip outdoors would be fine again. Delay travel plans and road trips to avoid exposure. For now, home is the safest option.
One of the best ways we can help one another is by being properly informed. Always refer to reliable sources such as the Department of Health, the Philippine Pediatric Society, the Center for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and the like. You can also ask your doctors directly regarding any questions you might have about COVID 19. Don’t immediately believe everything you read online, Moms and Dads. It’s a good idea to check your sources and rely on the ones that are truly credible.
For a more detailed guide, you may read the whole publication from the Philippine Pediatric Society.
You may also browse our websites for more tips and resources on health and fitness.
Philippine Pediatric Society. A Parent’s Guide on COVID-19 Infection in Children.
Department of Health. COVID 19 Home Care Guide para sa mga Bata.