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COVID-19 has affected a large number of people worldwide since its advent to date. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, mostly adults and older people were affected. However, in the second wave of the infection, which probably started in April 2021, the COVID-19 cases increased alarmingly in children.
Though the second wave of the infection causes only mild to moderate symptoms in children compared to adults, it is said that the third wave of COVID-19 could strongly affect the children, especially those with underlying medical conditions like diabetes or any immune deficiency diseases.
Prophylaxis or preventive measures is the best approach to prevent the risk of COVID-19 in children. Studies say that the immunity in children is strong enough to cope with the virus, however, with emerging virus strains of COVID-19, the best protocol the families can follow is to prevent the condition.
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Considering this, the Ministry of AYUSH has given out certain homecare guidelines to take care of children during the pandemic. It is very important for parents/caregivers/practitioners to make use of these guidelines and prevent their children and themselves from COVID-19. Take a look. 
General Care For Children
- Educate toddlers on the importance of handwashing and how it is the foremost step to prevent COVID-19.
- Teach them to regularly wash hands for a minimum of 20 seconds with soap and water or rub sanitiser containing 60 per cent of alcohol. This could be done while singing their favourite rhymes, songs or poems. 
- Train them to wash their hands after using toilets, sneezing, coughing, blowing their nose, prior to eating and immediately after coming from outdoors.
- Offer them a small reward in case the child is not willing to wash their hands.
- Educate children on the importance of wearing masks in public places.
- For children aged 12 and over, a mask is mandatory without parental supervision and for children aged between 5-12 years and 2-5 years, a mask must be worn under parent's supervision. 
- Masks should be avoided in cases like: the children are less than two years old, having breathing difficulty or unconsciousness, and the inability of the child to remove the mask without help.
- Non-medical or fabric masks are recommended for healthy children while medical masks are recommended for children suffering from immune-related disorders like cancer, AIDS, diabetes, etc. 
- Select a mask for children that properly covers their nose, mouth and chin without causing any breathing difficulties.
- Train children with appropriate mask manners like washing/sanitising hands before wearing the mask, touching only the strings and not the front, not using wet, dirty or damaged masks, not sharing masks, keeping used masks untouched in a separate bag/container and using reusable masks after washing and drying in the sun.
3. Social distancing
- Avoid any public events or gatherings like group play. 
- Avoid travelling (at least until vaccinated with both doses) and stay at home within possible limits.
- Help kids connect with their friends and extended family members through digital media like video or phone calls.
- Teach children to maintain a preferable social distancing of around six feet when outside the house.
- Also, advise them to maintain social distancing with anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
4. Respiratory hygiene
- Teach children to cover their nose and mouth with tissue/paper/handkerchief/sleeves/bent elbow when sneezing or coughing. 
- Be cautious that the respiratory droplets do not touch the palms or are not liberated in the air.
- Ensure that the tissue is immediately disposed of followed by washing of hands.
What To Do When Your Child Show Signs Of COVID-19?
When your child shows any of the following symptoms such as fever lasting 4-5 days, lethargy, loss of appetite, increased respiratory rate, diarrhoea, unconsciousness, less urine, red eyes and drop in oxygen saturation, follow these general guidelines daily to lower the symptoms.
- Give them lukewarm water for drinking.
- To ensure their good oral hygiene, make sure they brush two times a day (morning and night). For children above five years, practise oil pulling daily by taking a teaspoon of coconut or sesame oil and rinsing the teeth later with warm water.
- If your child (5 years and above) experiences throat problems like sore throat, make them gargle with warm water, added with a pinch of salt and turmeric or Yashtimadhu and Triphala.
- Massage with sesame, coconut or mustard oil followed by a warm bath.
- If your child (below six years) experiences symptoms like a blocked nose, apply plain coconut or sesame oil or medicated oils like Anu Taila or Cow Ghee in both the nostrils with clean fingers or earbuds.
- Encourage them to perform physical activities like yoga or meditation according to their capacity.
- Maintain a good diet for your child by giving them fresh, warm and easily digestible foods.
- Ensure their proper sleep timings.
- Perform dhupana or fumigation every evening near their beds, clothes or toys. You can do this with neem leaves, ghee, camphor, sarsapa and loban.
Other Important Tips
- If you are COVID-19 positive and given birth to a baby, the child should be tested for the same within 24-48 hours.
- Mothers should follow guidelines strictly to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to newborns. 
- If a child is suspected to have COVID-19, make sure they stay away from grandparents or elderly adults.
- Choose for online consultation of your child rather than visiting a clinic.
- Children who are at higher risk of mental health issues like those who have experienced the death of their family members due to COVID-19, should be well supported emotionally by elder members of the family. Help them address their worries and stay positive. 
- Make sure your children get adequate nutrition, an hour of physical activity and 8-10 hours of sleep on a daily basis. 
- Help them engage in recreational activities like painting, drawing or kitchen works.
- Make sure they are connected to their schoolwork, teachers and school friends and help them complete their task.
- Make ways for indoor activities like board games, reading, music, gardening, etc.
- Limit their media use.
- Talk to a medical expert if you notice sudden changes in your child's behaviour such as crankiness or anger issues.
Before taking care of children, it is important for the parents or caregivers to set an example by following COVID-19 guidelines themselves. Doing so will help children imitate the same and stay fit and healthy during the pandemic.
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