Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): What parents should know

Does COVID-19 affect children?

This is a new virus and we are still learning how it affects children or pregnant women. We know it is possible for people of any age to be infected and transmit the virus, although older people and/or those with pre-existing medical conditions seem more likely to develop serious illness.

There are reports of a rare but serious multisystem inflammatory syndrome affecting children and adolescents, possibly associated with COVID-19. Clinical features can include but are not limited to: persistent fever; rash; red or pink eyes; swollen and/or red lips, tongue, hands, feet; gastrointestinal problems; low blood pressure; poor blood flow to organs; and other signs of inflammation.

Many of these children have tested positive for COVID-19. However, it is not known for sure whether COVID-19 infection is triggering this condition. So far, these cases have been reported mostly in North America and Europe. We do not know yet whether the condition is present in other parts of the world and just not yet recognized.

Children who have these symptoms should seek medical care. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical, but initial reports suggest most cases responded well to anti-inflammatory treatment. 

Children may be disproportionately affected by measures taken to control the COVID-19 outbreak, such as school closures and physical distancing measures. Special attention needs to be paid to prevent and minimize negative consequences for children as much as possible.

What should I do if my child has symptoms of COVID-19?

Seek medical attention, but remember symptoms of COVID-19 such as cough or fever can be similar to those of the flu, or the common cold – which are a lot more frequent.

Continue to follow good hand and respiratory hygiene practices like regular handwashing so that your child is protected against other viruses and bacteria causing diseases.

As with other respiratory infections like the flu, seek care early if you or your child are having symptoms, and try to avoid going to public places (workplace, schools, public transport), to prevent it spreading to others.

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