By CARA HUNT
Tribune Features Writer
As Bahamians process the news that the country now has its first confirmed case of coronavirus, a local doctor is advising parents to be upfront with their children and help them deal with their fears.
“This is scary stuff for them,” Dr Ian Kelly, a family medicine practitioner, told Tribune Health. “They don’t understand what is happening and that can lead to fear.”
On Sunday, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced that schools across the country would be closed until April 14 and asked citizens to reduce any unnecessary movement.
Dr Kelly said it is important that parents be sensitive to the fears their children may have and discuss the situation to help alleviate their concerns as much as possible, while at the same time making sure that they are aware this is a situation they need to take seriously.
“Parents need to stress the importance of proper sanitation, including washing hands for a minimum of 20 seconds and what to do when they have to cough or sneeze,” he explained.
“It will be up to you as parents to talk to them and let them know that, yes, there is a virus going on, but let them know that as far as we understand, although kids can get it, they usually don’t...My niece who works in Ireland says that the paediatric wards there are bare.”
Although children appear not to be at higher risk for COVID-19, they could be the ones that pass it on to others who are more vulnerable.
“Usually we are more concerned for the over 60s and over 70s; the danger is that kids may not have any symptoms but can carry the virus home to those people in the higher risk areas,” said Dr Kelly.
He added that parents should also let their children express their feelings.
“It can be a big, bad world out there for kids and as parents your role is to help them get through it,” he said.