9Health Expert answers questions about the new coronavirus, COVID-19

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase around the country so do the questions we all have.

9Health Expert Dr. Payal Kohli addressed some of the top questions she has received as of the start of March.

What would you tell moms about what we know about the coronavirus in children?

In the epidemiological studies of coronavirus so far, we have noted that the rate of infection in children is surprisingly low. There was a case report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) of nine infants. Seven on the nine infants were female and none of them had serious complications or death. In another case series of 1,099 patients published in The New England Journal of Medicine, there were no patients under the age of 15 years. And, in the largest series to date published in the JAMA, with 72,314 patients, the rate of infection in kids under 10 years old and kids 10-19 years was <1%. So, kids are either having minimal or mild symptoms (which don’t necessitate testing) or possibly they have lower rates of exposure or relative immunity to the virus. So, the good news is, at least when it comes to our kids, this virus is less of a worry.

What would you tell someone who was making travel plans for spring break?

I would say to be very cautious. The situation is rapidly evolving and in 3-4 weeks, we could be in a very different situation, which may necessitate cancellation of travel plans. Certainly, check the travel advisories daily before making any plans. If you are immunocompromised or have chronic medical conditions like lung disease, heart disease or diabetes, this may not be the best time to do non-essential travel. For others, it is probably OK to go to areas that are not yet on travel advisories, but realize that you may be exposing yourself to higher risk (as the number of cases is probably underdiagnosed at this time). Your access to resources while you are traveling may also be limited.

Should we buy a mask?

We have discussed this before and will reiterate it again. Surgical Masks are not recommended at this time by the CDC to prevent transmission of the coronavirus. This is because surgical masks, which are largely ineffective in preventing transmission of COVID-19, are relatively loose-fitting and only protect from large respiratory droplets. They are not effective in filtering or protecting against small respiratory droplets that are can carry the coronavirus and cause infection. Some experts believe that the masks may actually increase the risk of transmission due to improper use, more frequent touching of face to reposition the mask, and a false sense of security of protection, making it less likely that you would wash your hands. Health care personnel are recommended to wear full protective gear (show photo below) (including an N95 respirator, which requires a fit test and training on how to wear) when caring for a person with known or suspected COVID-19.

Click here for the latest updates on the coronavirus (COVID-19)