Protecting little ones from dreaded virus - GulfToday

Protecting little ones from dreaded virus


Picture used for illustrative purpose only.

In these virus-driven times, protection from the coronavirus is the topmost priority across all sectors of society and tiers of living. And for that several must-dos have been laid out by health functionaries. That includes children wearing face masks, a mandatory precaution.

However, there are aberrations in some parts of the world. Several hundred Romanians, including many families with young children, protested on Saturday in the country’s capital against measures to curb the spread of coronavirus, especially the mandatory use of masks in schools.

Like other countries in Europe, the number of new virus cases has spiked in recent days in Romania, with a record 1,713 cases earlier this week and 1,333 more on Saturday. In all, Romania has registered 111,550 cases of COVID-19, with 4,402 confirmed deaths.

Protesters at Bucharest’s University Square chanted slogans against President Klaus Iohannis and Prime Minister Ludovic Orban and drew parallels between the protective measures against the pandemic and the communist and Nazi regimes. One of the speakers at the rally compared the measures to the torture of dissidents during Communism.

However, the World Health Organisation (WHO)  thinks differently. It said children aged 12 and over should wear masks to help tackle the COVID-19 pandemic under the same conditions as adults, while children between six and 11 should wear them on a risk-based approach.

Children aged 12 and over should particularly wear a mask when a one-metre distance from others cannot be guaranteed and there is widespread transmission in the area, the WHO and the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) said in a document on the WHO website dated Aug. 21.

Studies suggest older children potentially play a more active role in transmission of the new coronavirus than younger children.

Children aged five years and under should not be required to wear masks based on the safety and overall interest of the child, the WHO and Unicef said.

The UAE, however, is not taking any chances. It is making all-out efforts to enforce strict regulations to ward off the feared virus. It is recommended that children wear face masks provided they are more than two years old, announced Dr Omar Al Hammadi, the official spokesperson for the UAE Government, at a media briefing held in Abu Dhabi recently.

Dr Al Hammadi revealed that children are not immune to the virus, especially those who suffer from chronic diseases, noting that although they are less likely to develop severe symptoms, they are able to carry the virus and transmit it, so adequate precautions must be taken to save children from infection.

The risks are particularly pertinent when one takes into account the fact that kids are back in schools.

Dr. Hend Al Awadhi, Head of Health Promotion and Education Section in DHA’s Public Health Protection Department said, “In line with governmental guidelines, schools have adopted stringent precautionary measures to reduce the possibility of transmission of infection among students and to provide a safe and healthy educational environment. Parents also play a pivotal role in helping maintain health and safety standards. Students and parents must adopt internationally recommended safety measures at school and after school as well.”

Al Awadhi provided some tips to prepare children to go back to school. Among the tips is talking to children about the changes they will experience in school, such as having to wear a mask and the importance of maintaining physical distance between them and everyone at all times.

Children may be utterly bewildered by the dramatic tweak in school rules and behaviour, thanks to the virus, and could be psychologically affected.

Parents must allay their fears and educate them on positive practices to ensure that the virus is not within miles of their overall wellbeing.

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