In an Irish Times article Karina Butler, UCD Professor of Clinical Paediatrics and infectious disease specialist at Children’s Health Ireland, discusses what we know so far about COVID-19 in children, and advises parents and carers on ‘red flag’ symptoms to look out for.
Early indications based on relatively scarce – but increasing – data are that children who contract the virus generally have milder symptoms than adults and have a better prognosis. To date, deaths in children resulting from COVID-19 infection are extremely rare.
Prof. Butler advises that the management of symptoms of COVID-19 in children – fever, cough, runny nose, and in some cases gastrointestinal illness – is the same as for any other viral illness, including administering paracetamol in the first instance.
Prof. Butler also highlights a number of key symptoms that parents should watch out for: increased difficulty breathing, lethargy, and low fluid intake. In such cases, she advises parents to seek a medical opinion.
With our health services stretched to capacity, and understandably focused on patients presenting with symptoms of COVID-19, it’s important to remember and acknowledge that other illnesses have not gone away. There is concern that parents might be more reluctant to seek medical help for non-COVID illnesses, but Prof. Butler is keen to allay the fear of seeking medical help at this time: “The emergency rooms are open for business for all those normal things. We don’t want to be missing things because people are holding back because they are afraid of Covid.”