Global – March 12 2020

Coronavirus update: Protecting children worldwide

Across 136 countries and territories, we're taking every precaution to keep all children, young people and staff members safe from COVID-19.

How we are protecting our children from Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The alarming spread of the COVID-19 virus has led SOS Children’s Villages to take steps to ensure the health and safety of the nearly 70,000 children and young people in our children’s villages and youth programs, as well as some 39,000 staff members around the globe.

SOS Children’s Villages operates in 136 countries and territories, provides global and regional guidance on the virus to our SOS member associations based on the advisories of the World Health Organization. Local staff also follow the recommendations of their national health authorities to define measures to best protect children and staff that fit within their local context.

As a precaution, children and staff in some high-risk countries are staying within the children’s village, and visits from people outside the village and other facilities are restricted. In all countries, staff have been urged to develop and put in place Emergency Preparedness Plans for their programs and facilities.

The 10 SOS Children's Villages in China have adopted stringent measures to protect children and staff from the coronavirus. Children in some of the villages are doing their own awareness-raising campaign by making their own newspapers with messages about the virus and how to protect oneself (pictured above).

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Based on the World Health Organization and UNICEF, these are the best recommendations about protecting children during these challenging times:

How does COVID-19 affect children?

As COVID-19 is a new virus, there is not yet enough information or experience about how it affects children. People of all ages can be infected with the virus, but so far, it has affected children at a lower rate than adults.

How should parents and caregivers react if they notice symptoms?

Caregivers of children with symptoms of COVID-19 should seek medical attention. However, keep in mind that as it is also the flu season in many parts of the world, coughing, sneezing and fever can also be symptomatic of the common cold or flu.

Seeking care early is key, as well as avoiding public spaces to prevent spreading the symptoms to others. In case a child shows signs of illness, caregivers should first contact a health facility/provider and then take their children in if advised.

Should I take my child out of school?

Children who show symptoms of COVID-19 or the flu, such as fever or cough, should not come to school. Children who are not displaying any symptoms should stay in school unless otherwise advised by a public health advisory or official body.

How can I prepare my child to avoid spreading the virus?

Children who continue to attend school should be taught good hygiene behaviours. Frequent handwashing, covering a cough or sneeze with a flexed elbow, and not touching their eyes, noses and mouths if they haven’t properly washed their hands are some measures that should be taught to avoid further spreading the virus.

How can I keep my children from worrying?

The disruption in children’s daily routine may cause them stress. If possible, create opportunities for children to relax and play, and assure them in simple language that they are safe. Keep regular routines and schedules as much as possible, especially before bedtime.

What should I tell my children about what’s happening?

The World Health Organization suggests the following as an example of what to say to children: “You have to stay at home/at the hospital because it is safer for you and your friends. I know it is hard (maybe scary or even boring) at times, but we need to follow the rules to keep ourselves and others safe. Things will go back to normal soon.”

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