As schools reopen for full academic work, a Paediatric Pulmonologist of the Department of Child Health of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Dr Sandra Kwarteng Owusu, offers some tips on healthy behaviours for children to stay safe and slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.
What is COVID-19?
It is an infection caused by a virus, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome corona virus-2 (SARS-CoV 2), which affects the breathing (respiratory) system.
Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 infection
1. Mild Infection - Fever, runny nose, frequent sneezing, coughing, headaches.
2. Severe Infections - Difficulty in breathing, worsening cough and low oxygen levels in the body.
It is important to note that other upper respiratory tract infections caused by viruses (common cold) will also present in the same way. Generally younger children have frequent common colds during school periods.
Older children (6 years and above)
• Avoid close contact with other children or adults - do not hug or shake hands, do not touch other children directly.
• Always wear a face mask (wearing an appropriate face mask has been found to be very protective against contracting COVID-19)
• For children with allergies, it is advisable for them to wear well layered and tailored cotton type cloth mask .
• Keep the face mask on while in school.
• Maintain one meter distance while seated in the classroom. If it will be difficult to maintain the one meter distance because of class size, then the most effective way to reduce the risk of infection is to wear a face mask and keep it on throughout the school day.
• Avoid sharing face masks with other children even if they are your good friends.
• Every day before you set off for school, wash your hands with soap under running water or use a hand sanitiser.
• Remember to go to school in your face mask and keep a spare one in your school bag in case you need it
• Also keep your hand sanitiser in your school bag and use it when you need it.
• In addition, throughout the day and as often as possible, wash your hands or re-sanitise your hand.
• If you find out that someone in your class is sick, coughing or sneezing kindly report to your teacher immediately. Do not stigmatise them.
• Do not exchange school uniforms, handkerchiefs, pens, pencils etc.
• Avoid touching surfaces such as table tops, sinks, doors and door handles unnecessarily. If you do so remember to wash your hands or use your sanitiser
• As soon as you return home form school, wash your hands remove your school uniforms place them in a laundry basket or dry it under direct sunlight.
• Take a bath after school before going to play with your brothers and sisters.
• Drink enough water to keep you well hydrated throughout the day.
• Keep eating healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables.
• Do not hug your grandparents especially when you return from school.
• Give them the elbow shake.
• If very necessary take your bath first.
To be continued.