Childcare during Covid-19

Guidelines for Childcare during Covid-19 Third Wave

Lot of people in India are predicting a third wave even though we still haven’t gotten over the second wave. We are not epidemiologists and it is not our area of expertise to predict if there will be a third wave. But given that several other countries have had a third wave and we were underprepared for the second one, it’ll be prudent to prepare for a third wave, whether there is one or not.

Any virus tries to spread to as many hosts as fast as it can. This is the fundamental nature of existing and spreading of viruses.

In the first wave the Covid virus impacted older people more since they were the path of least resistance for the virus to spread. Older people generally have lower immunity than younger people and so the virus could spread faster among them.

In the current second wave we’re seeing a lot of young adults and even children getting infected since some of the older people have been vaccinated and lots of families (at least in the cities) are protecting the older family members by not letting them go out and socialize.

The theory propagated by some experts is that if there’s a third wave, it is likely that children might be affected more since more adults will either be vaccinated or infected by then and it will be easier to spread more and spread faster among children for the Covid virus. However this is a theory and not a certainty. But it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.

How bad a third wave could be and how much it will affect children depends on

  1. The virulence of the Coronavirus, which might change with each mutation ( could increase or decrease)
  2. Vulnerability of the population which depends on immunity and vaccination
  3. Vehicles for spread of virus which is dependent on how the population adheres to Covid protocols. For example, before immunity develops among a large percentage of the population, schools and social gatherings could become sources of spread.

So how can we prepare to protect our children if there’s a third wave?

1. Try to get the adults in the family vaccinated

If all the adults in the family are vaccinated, then the chances of the children getting infected are lower. In case one or more of the children get infected, if the adults are vaccinated, they can take care of the infected child and isolate the child from the other children.

We know that there are vaccine shortages and it’s hard to vaccinate all adults, but if you have the means and the opportunity to get vaccinated, please grab the opportunity without any hesitation.

2. Plan for grandparents or other family members to help

If your child gets infected and you go into isolation with the child to take care of the child, try to plan with the grandparents or other close family members to take care of the other children. Similarly plan on helping your other family members with their children. Plan these practical things early based on who in your immediate circle is vaccinated and who isn’t.

3. Breastfeeding an infected child

Several of our patient community members have asked us about this. We will be writing a more detailed post about this soon. But for the purposes of this post, if you’re breastfeeding your child and your child tests positive, please plan on the right breastfeeding protocols. Wear a mask (N95 if possible), make sure you have some help to ensure the child doesn’t pull your mask when you’re breastfeeding, sanitize thoroughly before and after feeding the child.

4. Schools and online classes

Whether schools open after the second wave dies down, will classes be conducted online — these are questions only the policy makers can answer. Even in normal years when schools open after the summer break, pediatricians see an increase in consultations as children spread viruses and bacteria among others in schools. In a pandemic situation this could get exacerbated.

5. Hygiene matters for everyone

Parents who have to go out to work should take a shower and change clothes before going to their children when they come back home. Maintaining hygiene measures at home by adults is as important as emphasizing it for children.

6. Caring for a hospitalized child

In case your child is hospitalized for Covid, one of the parents usually will be required to care for the child in the hospital. Practically no hospital can have one nurse for each child in an ICU or even a ratio of one nurse for two or three children. So a parent will be required to make sure the child is cared for. Further, children infected with Covid are not sedated as we have to ensure they have to get adequate amount of Oxygen. All of these conditions will necessitate a parent to spend time with the child in the hospital. So please plan with your family and circle of friends on how to care for your other children.

7. Build a relationship with your pediatrician

Build a trusting relationship with your pediatrician so he/she helps you in finding the medical resources that your child might need in case there is a third wave. Contact your pediatrician early if there are symptoms. This can not be emphasized enough.

8. Don’t grow tired of following Covid protocols

Isolation, distancing, repeated sanitization, not meeting friends — these are hard, especially for children. With this second wave dragging on and most of us in some kind of lockdown or isolation or the other, don’t grow tired of the Covid protocols. Find little ways of getting fresh air within your constraints and keep each other cheerful in the family.

Keep children on a regular routine like good balanced diet, proper sleep, regular exercise ( what ever possible indoors ) as this will also help the child build immunity.

This contributes majorly to ensure that if and when there’s a third wave you haven’t grown tired of following protocols and you get careless about it.

Be it any wave of a pandemic, the fact is that most children have a mild infection and recover quickly. So take precaution, be prepared and keep a positive attitude.

Originally published in Medium:

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