Coronavirus infection has now been declared a pandemic.  A ‘Pandemic’ means that the virus has spread over countries and continents and has nothing to do with how serious the illness is.

Coronavirus is a germ that, like all viruses, needs a human or an animal to live in for it to survive. It can’t live for very long outside a host.

The COVID-19 causing the outbreaks is a new strain of coronavirus so scientists are discovering new things about it all the time. There is a lot of misinformation out there which is causing a lot of fear so I thought, as Pediatric Infectious Diseases specialist and Holistic Pediatrician I would give you the latest information we have about the virus and share with you practical steps to prevent you and your kids from getting it.

Here’s what we know so far:

How it is spread

 It is spread by droplets that spray out when an infected person talks, sneezes or coughs. If these droplets land in another person’s eyes, nose or mouth they can become infected.

When an infected person sneezes or coughs these droplets usually only travel 2 meters (6 feet) around them and then land on what is below. So, keeping a safe distance between you and sick persons is important.

The virus is also spread when a person touches a surface contaminated with the virus and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth. So, handwashing frequently is crucial to keeping you healthy.

How severe is it?

According to the Chinese CDC based on a study of 44,500 patients the disease is:

Mild in 81% of infected people.

Severe in 14%

Critical (needs an intensive care unit)  in 5%

2.3% of people may die from it. Most deaths occur in elderly patients or patients with chronic diseases like chronic lung disease, diabetes, and immune system weakness.

Update on March 16, 2020.

Kids seem to have less severe illness than adults.

The latest study from China was just released by the American Academy of Pediatrics. This was a review of 2,143 cases of COVID-19 in children in China in January and February of this year. According to the researchers:

4% of children had no symptoms

51% had mild illness with fever, sore throat and/or a cough

39% had moderate illness

6% had severe or critical illness.

One child, a 14-year-old died.

This study also found that infants less than one year had higher rates of serious disease than older children: Around 11% of infants had severe or critical illness compared to 7% of kids from 1-5 years of age, 4% of kids 6-15 years old and 3% of those 16 years old and above.

What are the symptoms of the infection in kids?

Kids seem to have more cold-like symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Occasionally a child will have vomiting or diarrhea.
  • More severe illness can lead to pneumonia or the development of respiratory distress syndrome.

What are the symptoms of the infection in adults?

  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tiredness
  • Dry cough
  • Muscle aches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Phlegmy cough

How To Prevent Infection:

  • Social distancing: keeping at least 2 meters(6 feet) between you and other people when you are out in public. So, avoid going out unless it is necessary and do not go to places where there may be crowds of people like malls, weddings or any place where there are a lot of people.
  • Good handwashing, especially after touching surfaces in public. Most people don’t wash their hands well enough to prevent the virus from spreading. The proper way to wash your hands is to wet them with water, put a small amount of soap on them and then scrub every surface of your hands well. Scrub the palms, between the fingers, the back of your hands and under your fingernails, for at least 20 seconds or, the time it takes you to sing the happy birthday song twice. Rinse all the soap off and then dry your hands well with a clean paper towel. If you don’t have access to a bathroom and your hands are not visibly dirty, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol and make sure you scrub every surface of your hands until the sanitizer is completely dry.
  • Covering a cough or a sneeze with a tissue or your elbow
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with ill individuals.
  • Don’t go out if you or your child is sick
  • Avoid travel.
  • Do what you can to strengthen your immune system:
    • Eat a healthy well-balanced diet with lots of vegetables and fruits with little or no added sugar. Use spices like garlic, Tumeric, oregano, and basil when you cook.
    • Make sure your Vitamin D level is normal.
    • Drink plenty of water.
    • Exercise.
    • Get out in nature.
    • Catch up on sleep.
    • Manage your stress levels because stress lowers your immunity and makes it easier to get sick.
    • Take breaks from the media and, when you are searching online please make sure to get your information from reliable sources like the CDC or WHO.
  • Cleaning surfaces: Since Human coronaviruses can last on surfaces like metal, glass or plastic for up to 9 days it’s important to clean and disinfect theses surfaces well. Wipe down surfaces first with soap and water and then disinfect them with an alcohol solution containing at least 70%  ethanol, with undiluted hydrogen peroxide that you allow to sit on the surface for a few minutes, or a 0.1 % solution of bleach (sodium hypochlorite) which you can make at home by mixing:
  • 1/3cup of bleach in 3.8 liters of water.
  • 4 teaspoons bleach in 0.95 liters of water

Now that you have the latest, evidence-based information about this virus, I hope you feel more empowered knowing that there is quite a lot you can do to prevent infection in you and your family.

In my next article, I’ll share with you tips on how to talk to your kids about the Coronavirus in ways to make them feel empowered and safe.

Have a happy, healthy day,

Dr. Linda