COVID-19 is a worldwide infection—-a pandemic—-that started in China from a coronavirus. Worldwide, over a million people have been infected and tragically, thousands have died due to COVID-19 at the time this blog is published. Hundreds of thousands have also recovered.
For many who are infected with COVID-19, the usual symptoms are very similar to a cold or flu—fever, dry cough, and trouble breathing. It is likely that infected people may spread the virus before they show any signs of becoming sick. Some people with COVID-19, especially adults, get so sick that they may need care in a hospital.
Much needs to be learned about how COVID-19 affects kids. In the journal, Pediatrics, a study of kids with COVID-19 in China showed that most affected kids developed mild to moderate respiratory infections and some needed care in the hospital. Those who needed hospitalization tended to be very young, had pre-existing lung diseases, or weaker immune systems.
Treatments and immunizations are being researched and developed for COVID-19; none are available yet. Our best defense against infection is to wash our hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds or use alcohol sanitizer until we can wash our hands. This prevents transfer of the virus to our bodies from infected objects that we touch. As the number of COVID-19 infections increase, many health officials throughout the world recommend that we keep a safe distance of 6 feet or greater from other people and avoid gathering in large groups to prevent inhalation of the virus. This is called “social distancing.” People with weaker immune systems, including those who are very young and very old, should stay home as much as possible because they may experience more severe complications of COVID-19. This is why it is our responsibility as citizens of the world to protect others from infection by staying home if we are sick, covering our coughs, and keeping our hands clean at all times.
Dr. Clarisse Valencia is a board-certified Family Medicine physician with a background in bioengineering and a passion for health education and wellness. She received her medical degree from the Saint Louis University School of Medicine and completed the Kaiser Permanente, FMC, Family Medicine Residency Program.