Coronavirus: COVID-19 is now officially a pandemic, WHO says
The World Health Organization in Geneva said yesterday (11 March 2020) that the spreading coronavirus contagion is now officially a pandemic.
WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction. We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic. Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death. Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this virus. It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do. We have never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus. This is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus. And we have never before seen a pandemic that can be controlled, at the same time – The WHO Director-General, at the COVID-19 media briefing.
It’s everywhere. Everyone is talking about it
Your kids are hearing about coronavirus (COVID-19)? Can’t blame them. News of the coronavirus COVID-19 is everywhere and kids tend to worry more than they have to when they’re kept in the dark. What can we do? Apart from making sure that they get reliable information, we also need to make sure that they hear it from us.
Here is some advice from the CDC for parents to help them have conversations with their child about COVID-19. The guidance also illustrates ways we can avoid getting and spreading the disease.
General principles for talking to children
Remain calm and reassuring.
- Remember that children will react to both what you say and how you say it. They will pick up cues from the conversations you have with them and with others.
Make yourself available to listen and to talk.
- Make time to talk. Be sure children know they can come to you when they have questions.
Avoid language that might blame others and lead to stigma.
- Remember that viruses can make anyone sick, regardless of a person’s race or ethnicity. Avoid making assumptions about who might have COVID-19.
Pay attention to what children see or hear on television, radio, or online.
- Consider reducing the amount of screen time focused on COVID-19. Too much information on one topic can lead to anxiety.
Provide information that is honest and accurate.
- Give children information that is truthful and appropriate for the age and developmental level of the child.
- Talk to children about how some stories on COVID-19 on the Internet and social media may be based on rumors and inaccurate information.
Teach children everyday actions to reduce the spread of germs.
- Remind children to stay away from people who are coughing or sneezing or sick.
- Remind them to cough or sneeze into a tissue or their elbow, then throw the tissue into the trash.
- Discuss any new actions that may be taken at school to help protect children and school staff.
(e.g., increased hand-washing, cancellation of events or activities)
- Get children into a hand-washing habit.
- Teach them to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
- If soap and water are not available, teach them to use hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer should contain at least 60% alcohol. Supervise young children when they use hand sanitizer to prevent swallowing alcohol, especially in schools and childcare facilities.
Stay calm. Stay informed. Learn more about coronavirus (COVID-19) HERE. In other news, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is joining forces with Wellcome and Mastercard to launch a new initiative, The COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator. Read more about it HERE.