There is a lot of information circulating the internet about coronavirus (COVID-19) and depending on the source, it may or may not be true. Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital infectious diseases physician Juan Dumois, M.D., clears the air by debunking five coronavirus myths.
MYTH: Kids can’t catch it
Kids can catch it. In general, they are not as likely to get as sick as some adults become, but some kids can get quite sick. They are most likely to be affected the younger they are (12 months and under).
MYTH: Children are only contagious if they show symptoms
It is a scary thought, but you can still have and spread coronavirus even if you don’t have symptoms. The No. 1 guideline is: No matter who or what you touch, if you wash your hands before you touch your face, you probably won’t catch it. The risk of catching coronavirus is lower for kids who are at their home and not exposed to other kids at school or daycare. It is good for families to practice habits like good hand hygiene and avoid kissing on the lips or sharing drinks.
MYTH: Masks are enough to protect you
The CDC recently suggested that people wear cloth face masks in public if they can’t consistently stay 6 feet away from all other persons. But masks can be harmful if they give you a false sense of security. Cloth masks help to keep infected people from spreading viruses when they cough or talk, but their effectiveness for protecting you from other people’s viruses can be very poor, depending on the thickness of the fabric and the number of fabric layers in the mask.
Typically, masks have been used in hospital settings to protect healthcare workers and as a reminder to not touch your face, but that’s with trained people. When wearing a cloth face mask in public, remember to not touch your face until you have cleaned your hands, and make sure that the mask covers your nose and wraps under your chin. And definitely wear a mask if you have to be in public with any beginning symptoms of illness, like a scratchy throat, a little cough, or change in your senses of taste or smell.
MYTH: Pets will give you coronavirus
We do not yet know if pets can transmit the virus to people. We have learned that pets may be infected with the virus, but they may have no symptoms. Because animals can spread other diseases to people, it's always a good idea to wash your hands after handling your pets before you eat or touch your face.
MYTH: Encouraging your children to practice good hand hygiene won’t make a difference
Good hand hygiene is always beneficial and the most important way to prevent the spread of illness. If children can learn early, they can improve upon their hand hygiene skills. Most school-age kids can learn it and develop good habits. In fact, if school-age kids use sanitizer at least four times over the course of the school day, it can reduce illness-related absences by at least 25 percent in the school. Here is a video showing the best practices for hand washing with both soap and water and hand sanitizer.