It’s more than 3 months since the COVID Pandemic, we’ve had two major lockdowns – and we’re now in the process of unlocking – because life cannot be on a full stop forever and we need to get back to living life again albeit with new norms – a new way of life as it were. This is because COVID-19 infections are on the rise – the disease is deadly and we’ve got to stay protected and disease free – not only from COVID-19 but also from other just as deadly and life threatening diseases – so here are the new Dos Don’ts as of now. We do not know what’s in store for us. How long this pandemic will last. It doesn’t seem to be ending in the near future, maybe a few months, maybe a year or more!
Prevention is better and cure
We have no definitive cure as of now – and we’re on the search for vaccines. Till then- here are the new norms to be followed seriously and in earnest, if you want to save your life, your child’s or your parents life:
1. Stay at home – go out only if you really need to.
2. Work from home – all you parents if you can.
3. Do online banking, online shopping – order groceries and daily needs and have them left at your doorstep.
If you need to go out
- – Social distancing – stay 1-2 metres apart from others.
- – Wear a mask, hanky, dupatta, scarf when you go outside your house.
- – This is for everybody from 2 years above.
- – NO MASKS TO BE WORN BY CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 2YEARS BECAUSE OF THE REAL RISK OF SUFFOCATION!
- – The new norms for children sound contradictory and confusing – but changes have to be made.
- – No outdoor sports – for older children, no playing in the parks, no infants/children on strollers, no cycling.
- – The air is cleaner, less polluted but the risk of contracting COVID-19 is real and definite when one is outside – SO STAY INDOORS. PLAY INDOORS!
- – One obviously cannot maintain social distancing while playing football, hockey or basketball – nor can one play – wearing masks!
- – So see that your children do not choke themselves trying to play outdoors while wearing masks.
NO PLAYING OUTDOORS MASKS OR NO MASKS!!
– Simple but thorough hand washing with soap and water after coming from outdoors, before meals, after using the toilet – and may be for no reason at all!
– Use 70% alcohol based hand sanitizers where facility for hand washing is not available.
– Remember these 70% alcohol based sanitizers cannot replace thorough hand washing with soap and water and are way superior to hand sanitizer.
– Cleaning/sanitizing door handles, lift buttons, gate etc with alcohol sanitizers should be done with every use.
Home education/studies and screen time
Life has changed, so has education! The risk of children sitting in closed proximity in closed classrooms contracting COVID-19 is real. So online and virtual education is the new norm.
– Children have to be taught the new norms with the same kind of discipline and routine as in school days.
– Wake up, go to the loo, have a shower, get dressed, and get ready for online training methods with use of laptops, mobile phones etc.!
– We have always advised limited use of screen time whether television or computer – but these are difficult and different times – with new norms even though they may not be good for physical and mental health!
– So screen time to be used for education till necessary – and MINIMISE USE FOR ENTERTAINMENT, SOCIAL MEDIA etc., and under parental supervision.
– Mobile phones used for children under 5 years should be banned.
– Actually it should be banned for health risks even for older children but nowadays the teachers send homework on the smartphone – so limit the use of mobile smart phones.
– Do not feed your young children while making him watch cartoons on TV, laptop or mobiles. Do not divert their attention from food, to watching television!
Keeping Children Occupied
– Set up a routine for them.
– Make basketball loops in the balcony, table tennis table etc.
– Encourage yoga, jogging, jumping and skipping.
– Adults /parents lead from the front, lead by example by exercising, yoga and whatever! Innovate ways, involve children in the innovation.
– Household chores are not only for adults and/household helps.
– Teach children the dignity of labour, involve them in household chores including cleaning/washing dishes/clothes etc. Making their beds etc. – depending on their age.
– Make cooking interesting, involve them in cooking new dishes.
– Restrict outdoor eating or take away foods. The thrill of making pizza from scratch, or making golgappa chaat, or butter chicken or baking a cake can be fun!
– Encourage regular sleep timings.
– These are not summer or winter breaks/holidays when you can sleep till late and relax! COVID-19 is here to stay for an uncertain long time – so routine is very important.
– Indoor games like cards carrom board etc. may be a good change but this a normal day and year – so these are free time hobbies.
– Encourage reading – physical reading of books – not on the internet – actually hold a book and read – all kinds of books.
Vaccines and Vaccination
The course of COVID-19 being unknown there are some things for parents to know.
– First year vaccines are a priority for the pediatrician and for the child. So the first year vaccines must all be taken/given on the time schedules.
– The very first visit to the pediatrician for vaccines (after the initial vaccines given soon after birth in hospital) are the DPT/DTaP, Polio, HepatitisB, Haemophilus Influenzae (Hib), pneumococcal and Rotavirus vaccines CAN BE SCHEDULED AT BETWEEN 6-8 weeks.
– The second and third dose of these above mentioned vaccines can be scheduled at 4-8 weeks intervals each.
– Multiple vaccines can be administered at the same visit, at different sites without the risk of increased side/adverse effects.
– The after 6 month vaccines like influenza, MMR (mumps measles rubella), typhoid and meningococcal vaccines can be clubbed in may be two – visits to schedule two vaccines at one go, and minimize visits to the doctor’s clinic/hospital.
– The second year and later booster vaccines can be safely postponed to a later date if required but should not be missed.
– Rabies vaccination should not be postponed or deferred.
– There is no documented risk of vaccinating healthy/well children during this COVID-19 pandemic.
Online and video consults
There is a very real risk of contracting COVID19 infection both for the doctor, the child/parent. So visit the clinic/hospital, only if absolutely urgent. Most events – happy or sad/unhappy ones – are being done virtually to prevent spread of this highly contagious disease. So also – consultations by video, should be encouraged and should become the new norm till the pandemic ends. Very sick children should be taken to hospital for care. Other children should be managed by online video consults only.