Children and young people all over the world are changing their daily routines to protect themselves, and those they love and care about, from this latest* coronavirus.
*We say latest because this is not the first coronavirus. Coronaviruses have happened before. This one is called COVID-19 because it was discovered in 2019.
Most people have mild effects
It’s natural that we’re all worried about this virus. It’s on the news 24/7 and some countries have even gone into what’s called ‘lockdown’ – where people are having to stay indoors and only come out to buy food or get medical help. Schools, cinemas and sports events are closing.
It’s right that we’re all taking action to protect our health. We do this all the time anyway – when we eat healthy food, exercise and avoid harmful things like smoking. Some years ago, our government banned smoking in cars when there are child passengers. That was a massive change in behaviour. Some complained that it went too far. But research shows it’s been good for children’s health.
Scientists say that COVID-19 seems to be passed between humans mainly through droplets from our mouths and noses when we sneeze, cough, or breathe out. They are not absolutely sure, though, because this is a new virus.
These are some of the things the NHS says we all should do to avoid catching or spreading COVID-19 (this is called ‘social distancing’):
Sneeze or cough into a tissue then immediately put the tissue in a bin. If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your elbow / sleeve – not your hands.
Wash hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds. It just so happens that the ‘Happy Birthday’ tune lasts for 20 seconds, but we can use whatever catchy tune we want. Actually, though, just counting to 20 seconds will do it! Soap is brilliant at stopping the spread of this virus.
Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.
Only travel on public transport if absolutely necessary.
Keep away from crowds.
You can read the full list of NHS dos and don’ts here. NHS advice is updated when necessary, so this is a great site to keep an eye on.
Serious effects are rare
Most people with COVID-19 recover from it.
The World Health Organisation was set up after the Second World War to promote good health all over the world. It is leading the world-wide fight against COVID-19. As part of this, it releases regular updates on the number of people who have very sadly died in different parts of the world.
As of 1 April 2020, there were 827,419 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the world, and very sadly 40,777 people had died in total. (There are 7.7 billion people in the world overall).
In the United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland), there were 25,154 confirmed cases of COVID-19 by 1 April 2020, and very sadly 1,789 people had died. (The UK’s population is approaching 68 million people).
Health experts have reported that those who have died in the UK were older people and/or those who had health conditions which made it much harder for their bodies to fight the virus.
Governments around the world are taking action to protect everyone. They are also giving advice to help people who might have a tough time if they catch the virus. This includes people aged 70 and over, and those with serious health conditions.
It is always best to avoid illness if we can. That’s why children are vaccinated against measles, for example. We don’t yet have a vaccine for COVID-19, so we have to take extra care.
Governments are asking vulnerable people to take special steps because they want to avoid people suffering if this can be avoided. They also want to protect our NHS. Hospitals are very busy at the best of times.
Many people are trying video calls for the first time as a result of COVID-19. This keeps us connected without having to travel or risk passing on the virus. Older people you know may ask you for technical help!
Bringing out the best in us
It’s often said that dealing with difficult things brings out the best in us humans. You may have already seen that in yourself? For example, people who go through tough times in childhood are often really good at thinking about other people’s feelings, and understanding when people are stressed or frightened.
We’ve found some lovely stories of children and young people doing great things. Here are some of our favourites.
A brother and sister in Ohio, in the United States of America, performed a concert for their 78 year-old neighbour who loves music.
Young people are putting notes through their neighbours’ doors and helping with shopping.
Young children in Viet Nam made a video to encourage other young children to wash their hands.
We’re particularly interested in creative things you’re doing to help others that don’t involve you leaving the house.
Childline helps children and young people cope with lots of different worries and situations. You can contact them online or on the phone, see here.
Social services are there for children and young people who feel unsafe or uncared for at home, or need help for other reasons.
You should be able to find the contact details of your local social services by searching the name of your area followed by ‘children’s social care’. Childline will be able to help you get in touch with children’s social care too.
Child Bereavement UK
Child Bereavement UK is there for children and young people whenever someone they love dies.
The charity has support and advice on its website for young people, by young people. You can find it here.
Thank you for reading this.
Please keep talking to your family, friends and carers. Let them know how you’re feeling.
If you don’t know how to tell people you’re worried, you could try asking them how they’re feeling. That should get a conversation started.
We will all be more restricted in what we can and can’t do in the coming days, weeks and months, particularly when it comes to being outdoors. Those who love and look after you should be able to help you find enjoyable things to do.
As far as you can, keep on doing the things you love and that make you happy.