How does coronavirus affect children, and what role are children playing in the spread of the virus? It is these questions that need to be considered before relaxing coronavirus measures becomes a possibility in the Netherlands.
As of now it appears that children do not display severe symptoms of the infection, NOS reports. In fact, some cases are so mind that symptoms are not even present. Rarely does coronavirus result a fever for children.
Nonetheless, this doesn’t apply for call cases of coronavirus among children. A 12-year old girl in Belgium died as a result of the virus, without having previously underlying complications. Furthermore a 16-year old boy in Breda was hospitalised and in intensive care, fighting for his life.
The Outbreak Management Team, which advises the Dutch cabinet, stated in their advice (issued April 14) that reopening primary schools and nurseries will not drastically affect the number of of IC beds, since most cases among youth are mild. Thus, it has advised the cabinet to gradually begin reopening schools in May.
How contagious are children?
Although cases among children may not be quite as serious as they are among the elderly, it’s important to remember that the virus could possibly spread between children who could then infect their parents as well as others.
NOS reports that the RIVM (which closely monitors coronavirus in the Netherlands) has been studying the virus in families, so more will be known after June 1.
Although virologists and epidemiologists agree that more serious infections are more contagious than mild infections, much is still unknown about contagiousness and mild cases. So it is unclear whether children with no symptoms can infect others.
Spread of coronavirus through stool
Even though children may have mild symptoms or may display no symptoms at all, the virus is still reportedly present in nasal fluid and in stool, studies show.
Italian virologist, Massimo Gatti recommends flushing the toilet with the lid closed as a way to prevent spread through this avenue, since flushing releases molecules into the air, which has the capacity to spread infection, NOS states. In practice this is difficult to implement.
So all in all, we still need more research to see exactly how coronavirus affects children. What is known, however, is that it affects them less severely than adults.
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Feature Image: Lucélia Ribeiro/Flickr