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Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that can cause illnesses as minor as a cold, but in some cases the virus can be fatal. This outbreak is caused by a new strain of coronavirus, now called COVID-19, which has not been previously seen in humans before the outbreak was reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019.

An epidemic is an unexpected regional outbreak of specific illness. A pandemic is an epidemic that has spread worldwide.

It’s important to be calm, honest and informed when speaking to children about news related to the coronavirus. You can start by asking your child what they already know about the coronavirus.

Many times, children can take their cues from adults, so it’s important to answer their questions and address any misinformation simply and calmly. It also helps to validate their feelings while reminding them what is in their power—washing hands thoroughly and often, coughing and sneezing into their elbow, getting plenty of sleep, etc.

This is as important a time as ever to model strong behavior when it comes to practicing good hygiene.

Children in communities affected by coronavirus will be impacted. They may be separated from their caregivers during quarantine or during admission to hospital which can make them very vulnerable. They may have reduced access to essential health services, their travel may be restricted, and schools  may  be closed.  Routine immunizations or operations may be disrupted or less of a priority.

We advocate that children’s best interests are at the centre of every response. Learn more about the impact to children here.

Even with milder symptoms, kids may carry the coronavirus home and infect others.

We don’t know whether children are at higher or lower risk of contracting COVID-19 based on the available data so far. What we do know is that the pandemic is spreading quickly and social distancing will help reduce transmission of the virus.

Save the Children is working to ensure that all our programs, particularly in those countries most at risk from the outbreak, are ready to prepare and respond accordingly.

Our teams are also focused on making sure we provide the right health messages to the community to help them protect themselves from the virus and know when and how to seek help.

In Canada, we’re implementing measures to ensure the safety and well-being of our partners and staff. This means we paused all programs that involve the gathering of groups. We are working virtually with our Indigenous partners to understand, and respond to the pandemic’s impact on the communities we work with and how we can specifically protect children.

Sadly, we do not expect the coronavirus to go away anytime soon. As such, our teams are doing everything we can to build plans to keep children and our staff protected and healthy.

In Canada, we’re working with our partners to understand the pandemic’s impact on the Indigenous communities we work with.

Around the world, Save the Children has launched a Global Coronavirus Response to help in the following ways:

  • Presently, our global health teams are participating in daily World Health Organization (WHO) calls, building response scenarios and undertaking preparedness activities across the countries in which we work, especially those with weakened health systems.
  • In China, we’ve delivered medical supplies to help and protect healthcare workers in Wuhan, and are working closely with our colleagues on the ground to provide additional support.
  • Globally, Save the Children is hosting a series of pandemic preparedness workshops for global and local NGOs, in multiple locations across Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
  • Additionally, we are training health teams worldwide on how to protect themselves and prevent further spread of the disease. We are also supplying protective equipment and other supplies which front-line health workers desperately need. In addition, we are protecting children and families who may be separated due to quarantine.

Learn more about our response here.

This virus often appears with pneumonia-like symptoms including fever, chills, congestion, body-aches and a cough.

Although this coronavirus originally spread from animals to humans, it’s been confirmed that this strain of the virus can now spread between humans.

Similar to the common cold, the coronavirus is spread via droplets when a person coughs or sneezes.

Steps are being taken to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Most importantly, the WHO emphasizes that the best way to avoid spread of the novel coronavirus is to keep good hand hygiene and good cough etiquette.

Treatments are under investigation and will be tested through clinical trials. The WHO is helping to coordinate efforts to develop medicines and Vaccines to treat the virus with a range of partners, however there are many basic public health interventions available which can reduce the risk of infections now.

To protect yourself from getting infected with COVID-19, you should maintain basic hand and respiratory hygiene and avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms such as coughing and sneezing if possible.

All those infected should receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms, such as cold and flu medicine. Patients with more severe illness may require more specialized care such as antibiotics and oxygen treatment.

As with all viruses, practicing good hygiene is the best way to prevent illness: wash your hands often, with soap and for at least 20 seconds. Avoid close contact, when possible, with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

To protect others, cough and sneeze in your elbow; stay home when you’re not feeling well to help your body recover and avoid spreading germs to others.

Avoid close contact with people. Maintain 2 metre (6 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Children, their families and their communities impacted by coronavirus will need continued relief in the days and months to come.

Your support can help keep children in crisis healthy and safe. Please donate to our Coronavirus Appeal today.