As we head into the second month of social isolation and quarantine, the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to escalate dramatically throughout the world, claiming thousands of lives and devastating families around the globe .
The virus has disproportionately affected older adults, giving rise to several campaigns to support our elderly population and keep them from getting sick. This does not mean, however, that young people, and even infants are immune, particularly if they have any kind of underlying health condition.
Erin Bates Tests Positive
Erin Bates, a six-month-old baby girl near Manchester, England, is currently in hospital being treated for COVID-19.
The young infant, who has a heart condition and windpipe problems, was already in the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital after undergoing open-heart surgery in December when she tested positive for the virus.
Erin’s parents, Emma and Wayne, were heartbroken when they learned their daughter had contracted the virus, but they say that the hospital staff has been amazing during this difficult time.
Aside from her daughter’s condition worsening, Mrs. Bates’ biggest concern is having to be separated from her baby girl. Currently, her husband is self-isolating at home while she stays with Erin, but if she contracts the virus, she will have to be moved to a separate hospital, and Erin will have to be alone.
“This alone breaks my heart that if things get worse our baby girl maybe on her own when she needs her mummy and daddy by her side,” said Mrs. Bates .
The Bates family released the photo of Erin to encourage all of us to follow social distancing rules.
Infants and COVID-19
According to the CDC, children and infants do not appear to be at a higher risk for COVID-19 than adults. This does not mean they cannot get sick, but to date children under the age of eighteen make up a much smaller percentage of the total global case count.
Additionally, children who do get sick tend to have milder symptoms than adults, and typically report symptoms such as a fever, a runny nose, and cough .
Currently, there is little data describing the global fatality rate of children, but data from New York City Health has shown that children aged 0 to 17 years old make up 0.04 percent of the total coronavirus deaths in the state. Of these deaths, all of them had underlying health conditions .
Infants, however, are at a higher risk for developing complications or severe illness than older children. One recent study has found that out of 95 infants who tested positive for the virus, 62 percent of them had to be hospitalized. This is significantly higher than the hospitalization rate of children 0 to 17, which is only 14 percent.
This is because children’s immune systems continue to develop over time, so babies are less capable of fighting off diseases.
“The first year of life, children don’t have the same robust immune response that older children and adults do,” explained Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, chair of the committee on infectious diseases at the American Academy of Pediatrics .
Children are Silent Carriers
Since many children appear to have mild symptoms or do not exhibit symptoms at all, there is a risk that they could spread the virus to more vulnerable populations. For this reason, it is crucial that you have your children practice proper, frequent handwashing, and that you keep them away from older family members as much as possible .
Unfortunately, it is also important that you do not allow your children to get together with groups of kids during this time since the virus could spread easily between children and then be transmitted throughout families .
Follow the Rules
Wayne Bates, who is self-isolating at home while his baby daughter is in the hospital, is very upset by the number of people he sees who do not appear to be taking the situation seriously.
Little baby Erin is yet another example of how the COVID-19 virus does not discriminate based on age or gender, and anyone is susceptible. For this reason, we need to protect our more vulnerable friends and neighbors by practicing social distancing and proper hygiene.
If we want to get through this pandemic with as few casualties as possible, we must all stand together and keep doing our part to reduce the burden on our healthcare system and protect lives.
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