FAQ about Covid-19 for parents
It’s finally happened. After two years of diligent mask-wearing, hand-washing and social distancing, you see those dreaded two lines on your ART. Worse still, your kid has caught the bug too, and now your mind is racing: Should I rush to the A&E? Do I isolate myself from my child? What about school? So many questions!
Well, we did some digging and spoke to paediatrician at Kinder Clinic Dr Darryl Lim to get some legit advice on what to do in such a scenario. Don’t panic – here are some Covid-19 FAQs for parents, answered:
My kid is not well and has tested positive on a home ART
Should I bring them to A&E?
Don’t rush to the hospital just yet. According to the Ministry of Health (MOH), if your child is feeling unwell with fever, cough or sore throat, and if they are aged three or younger, they should follow protocol 1. This means you should visit a GP or paediatrician or register for a telemedicine consultation.
Image credit: @kkh.sg
Your doctor will let you know what the next steps will be, but your kid will most likely be able to recover at home via the Home Recovery Programme (HRP), which MOH will subsequently reach out to you with more information about. However, if your kid is below three months of age, they will most likely have to recover at a care facility or hospital.
If your child is sent to a designated care facility or hospital, you’ll be allowed to stay with them if they’re aged 12 or below, even if you currently test negative. Children between 13 and 19 will only be allowed to isolate alone if they have the written consent of their caregiver.
For children recovering at home, MOH will make sure that a telemedicine provider calls to check on your kid during their recovery via video consultation. They will also send over medication if necessary. For Singaporeans, Permanent Residents and Long-Term Pass Holders, this is completely paid for by the government.
Unless your kid is severely ill – such as with shortness of breath or chest pain – or if they have underlying health problems like diabetes or hypertension, there is no need to make a trip to A&E. Hospitals are currently very full, and you’ll face a very long waiting time if you do go there.
My kid has tested positive, but only has mild symptoms
What should I do?
Image credit: Chris Yong
If your child tested positive but is generally well, or has been assessed by a doctor to have a mild case of Covid, they can follow protocol 2. They should self-isolate at home for 72 hours – in their own room as far as possible. This also means no going to school or meeting others, except to see a doctor.
Protocol 2 only applies to kids above the age of three and who don’t have any underlying chronic health conditions. They’ll still need to see a GP at one of the Swab and Send Home (SASH) clinic or Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs) in person or go to a Combined Swab Centre or Quick Test Centre to be supported by the government HRP system.
Image credit: Ministry of Health
Your child will have to continue their home isolation until they test negative on an ART, for up to seven days if they’re below 12 years old, or 12 and above and fully vaccinated. On day seven, from 12PM onwards, they can leave the house. According to MOH, children also don’t require a recovery memo in order to return to school, so they’ll be free to resume their day-to-day activities.
If they are 12 and above but partially vaccinated or unvaccinated, they can leave the house if they test negative, or after 14 days, whichever comes first.
My kid’s condition was mild but is worsening
Should I call for an ambulance?
If your child’s symptoms aren’t improving and seem to be getting worse, you can leave the house to bring them to a GP. Alternatively, contact the telemedicine provider that MOH linked you up with at the beginning of your HRP.
Call 995 only in case of an emergency
Image credit: gov.sg
However, don’t call an ambulance unless there’s a medical emergency. According to Dr Lim, that’s only when your kid experiences symptoms such as chest pain, palpitations and shortness of breath, persistent diarrhoea and vomiting, and significant pain or discomfort.
Other symptoms to watch out for include high (>40°C) and prolonged fever (>38°C) for five or more days, and a worsening headache.
Someone in my house has Covid-19
Can my kid still go to school?
If anyone in your household has tested positive for Covid-19, they will be asked by MOH to nominate their close contacts such as classmates, school bus mates and family members, who will then receive a Health Risk Notice (HRN) SMS. Your kid will then be asked to take an ART within 24 hours.
Image credit: Ministry of Health
If they test negative, they can leave the house to go to school and continue with their daily activities. However, they should test themselves once a day every day if they need to leave the house for five days. If they test positive, then you can check if they fall under protocol 1 or 2.
Closing the lid of the toilet when flushing can help stop the spread of germs
The infected household member should take precautions to avoid spreading the virus to others in the house. These include regular hand-washing and wearing a mask when leaving the isolation room.
The virus can live on surfaces for two to three days, so extra care should be taken to clean “high traffic” parts of your home, such as door handles, sinks, toilet bowls, and shower handles.
I’m the main caregiver of my Covid-positive kid
Should I let myself get Covid-19, since my kid already has it?
Wear a mask at home when taking care of someone with Covid-19
That’s probably not a good idea. Dr Lim says, “As you can see from the MOH updates, there is still morbidity and mortality involved for Covid-19 patients, so it’s still best to practise good hygiene and take precautions when taking care of your kids with Covid-19”
He adds that children tend to have milder symptoms than adults, so you might be more ill than your kid if you catch Covid-19 from them. It would be difficult for you to take care of your kid if you’re sick yourself, so you should try your best to stay healthy.
I need to swab my child
Which ARTs can I use & how should I swab my kid?
There are ART kits that have been tested and approved by the Singapore Health Sciences Authority and are readily available at local pharmacies, so don’t go buying any random brand in bulk online because they may not have been tested for safety and efficacy.
Those on HRN can retrieve free ART kits from vending machines islandwide.
Image credit: SD Biosensor
Kids between three and 12 will require an adult’s help to use an ART home test kit. Kids over 12 will probably need supervision to do the test. But if your kid is below two, MOH says that ARTs are not required. If they need to get tested, you should bring them to a doctor to get it done.
Here are some ways to easy your child into the swab process:
- Explain to your kid, in terms they’d understand, what you’re about to do and why you’re doing it.
- Do a demo with a cotton bud and teddy bear on what the ART will be like.
- Explain what you’re doing each step of the way.
- Turn on their favourite cartoon to distract them.
- Reward them with hugs and kisses, or even their favourite snack afterwards.
Read more tips on how to perform ARTs on kids.
I’m pregnant and someone in my household has tested positive for Covid-19
Can I still take care of my kid if they’re Covid-positive?
Pregnant women are at a higher risk for complications and severe illness if they get Covid-19. While you can still take care of your kid if they are sick, Dr Lim advises taking adequate hygiene precautions, especially if you have underlying health conditions.
That includes wearing a mask even at home; washing your hands with soap and water frequently, or using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol; and seeing a doctor as soon as possible if you do develop Covid-19 symptoms.
I’m worried about long-term effects of Covid-19 on my kid
Are they going to be able to recover?
Most children with Covid-19 will recover within two weeks without any permanent side effects. But Dr Lim warns that “long Covid” can also be experienced by children for four or more weeks after first being infected. Common symptoms include: severe fatigue, breathlessness, joint pain, chest pain and “brain fog” which causes difficulty thinking or concentrating.
In rare cases, young children can also suffer from a severe inflammatory syndrome called Kawasaki disease, an inflammation of the blood vessels. That is why parents need to keep a close eye on their children with Covid-19 and seek medical attention if their symptoms worsen or do not improve.
FAQs on helping kids recover from Covid-19
While there is an increasing number of children getting Covid-19, and they’re starting to form the bulk of hospitalisations in Singapore, the good news is that most kids have experienced less severe symptoms than adults have.
If you’re not sure what to do if you or your child gets Covid-19, hopefully these FAQs will guide you towards a smooth recovery. While you’re at it, you can also take a look at the free illustrated e-book What do I do if I’m Covid positive? to get an idea of what it’s like to recover from Covid-19 at home.
Here’s hoping that the Omicron wave – and all the other variants of Covid-19 – goes away soon, so that we can go back to a non-social distancing, non-mask wearing life.
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