Update on how COVID-19 affects children

19 Aug 2020

With schools opening in September it is really important we understand how COVID-19 affects children.

It is clear that children can become ill with COVID-19.

However, they appear to be less susceptible to the virus than adults and their symptoms are generally milder. The role children play in transmitting the virus is not yet fully understood. Early indications suggest that there is less transmission from children than adults.

𝐂𝐚𝐧 𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐝𝐫𝐞𝐧 𝐜𝐚𝐭𝐜𝐡 𝐂𝐎𝐕𝐈𝐃-𝟏𝟗?

Studies indicate that children under the age of 18 make up only around 2% of COVID-19 cases worldwide.
Data from countries that have conducted widespread community testing suggest children may be less likely to be infected.

In Iceland, no cases were found in children under 10 years olds in random population screening. No cases were found in children under 10 in the Italian town of Vò. In South Korea children aged under 9 accounted for 1% of positive tests. In the United States only 1.7% of cases occurred in children under 18 years old; children make up 22% of the whole population.

Studies that have traced the contacts of infected people in Guangzhou and Wuhan in China also suggest children are less likely to test positive for the virus following exposure to an infected person.

Childhood COVID-19 infections tend to be milder.

The symptoms displayed by children include a cough or fever, runny nose or sore throat, diarrhea, and/or vomiting.

An analysis of COVID-19 cases among children under 18 years old in Hubei, China found that 55.4% had mild symptoms or were asymptomatic. 5.4% of cases in children were severe or critical compared to 18.5% of adult cases.
The current reported death rate in children everywhere is 0.01% (equivalent to one in 10,000 cases). This is considerably lower than the death rate amongst adults.

However, there is a complicating factor, in the UK there has been a small rise in the number of critically ill children with overlapping features of toxic shock syndrome and atypical Kawasaki disease. Toxic shock syndrome is a rare complication of certain bacterial infections. Kawasaki disease is a disorder in which the walls of arteries become inflamed. Symptoms include persistent fever, inflammation and altered organ function. Some of these children tested positive for COVID-19. It is not clear whether these rare symptoms are being caused by COVID-19 or some other unknown factor.

𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗿𝗼𝗹𝗲 𝗱𝗼 𝗰𝗵𝗶𝗹𝗱𝗿𝗲𝗻 𝗽𝗹𝗮𝘆 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗿𝗮𝗻𝘀𝗺𝗶𝘀𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻?

While children are less likely to show symptoms when they have the infection there is little evidence to suggest asymptomatic children are playing a major role in spreading the disease. The China/World Health Organisation commission investigated the initial COVID-19 outbreak in China. They found no cases where transmission occurred from a child to an adult. Another study analysed the source of 31 household clusters of COVID-19 in China, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, and Iran found that children were the source of infection in just three of these cases. The absence of coughing in milder or asymptomatic cases may reduce the transmission of the virus.

Although the role children play in transmitting the virus is unclear, evidence consistently demonstrates that children are less likely than adults to acquire infection, and less likely to bring infections into households.

𝗛𝗼𝘄 𝗱𝗼 𝘄𝗲 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝘁𝗲𝗰𝘁 𝗮𝗴𝗮𝗶𝗻𝘀𝘁 𝗖𝗢𝗩𝗜𝗗-𝟭𝟵?

The safety of children, staff and parents who attend our nursery is of paramount importance. We will use Government guidance regarding best practice in an effort to protect from and reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19. It is important to recognise that we can currently reduce the risk of infection, but cannot totally eliminate the risk. Our safe operating procedures include a COVID-19 policy a robust risk assessment.

Enhanced hand washing. Staff and children wash hands regularly, this is monitored rigorously. Sanitiser with a minimum of 70% alcohol content is used where soap and water are not available.

Enhanced cleaning to prevent the spread of the virus from person to person. Surfaces that are frequently touched are regularly cleaned and disinfected. Toys and play equipment are cleaned regularly.

We manage children in small groups an keep the same children and staff together from day to day.

Minimise contact with children and adults who are unwell. If children or staff display symptoms we will ask them to get a test. In case of someone testing positive all children in room and staff will need to self isolate for 14 days. We will ensure we update parents within 3 hours of a positive test.

We provide personal protective equipment to staff to minimise the risk of infection.

It is a requirement staff use the track and trace app, if this is not available, we will keep paper-based records of all adults entering our premises to help with track and trace in the event of an outbreak

Hopefully this information has been useful to you.

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