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Covid-19: Is closing schools good idea?

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Children’s Corner with PANIC CHILUFYA
LAST week Minister of Health, Chitalu Chilufya announced measures to combat the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), which was first reported in Wuhan, China in November last year.
Some of the measures include screening processes at points of entry, a restriction on foreign travel or rescheduling travel dates, self-quarantine for those who might have already entered the country, restriction on public gathering and maintaining social distancing as well as personal and environmental hygiene.
Later on, the minister announced the closure of all schools and institutions of higher learning until further notice.
In my view, the closure of schools and institutions of higher learning will certainly present some challenges for parents especially those with adolescents and young adults.
With this unexpected closure, it is possible that some young people will use this as a time to socialise with friends and peers instead of staying at home for their own safety.
Although the Ministry of Health has been diligently disseminating personal hygiene information on the use of hand sanitisers, washing of hands often with soap and warm water for 20 to 30 seconds, social distancing, no handshakes or hugging, no touching of eyes, nose or mouth and avoiding sick people, this might not be enough especially for young people who have a tendency of patronising shopping malls even when they have no business there. Once there, they might shake hands or hug with others, use lifts, and other facilities where there is a possibility that they could be exposed to the virus.
And to get there, most young people might have to use public transport and in the process money might change hands. These areas are all fertile ground for rapid infection or exposure to take place. Sadly, by the time symptoms will begin to show, many other people will have been exposed to the virus. This is because the incubation period (time from exposure to development of symptoms) of the virus is estimated to be between 2 and 14 days though it some other cases it could even be longer. Some people will not know that they are infected or exposed until they present symptoms which might be a bit too late.
To avoid this, it is the responsibility of parents to ‘ground’ their children especially the older ones to ensure they stay at home unless in extreme cases. Children should be encouraged to use the time at home to study or catching with school work especially those in examination classes.
It is only through self-isolation and carrying out other precautionary measures as set out by the World Health Organisation that this infectious disease that causes severe acute respiratory health challenges will be overcome. Especially that medical experts are still trying to figure out how COVID-19 will play out and how long it will take to completely eradicate it.
By Sunday, Zambia had had three confirmed cases; globally nearly 220,000 people have been confirmed with the virus, at least 84,000 have recovered. Sadly, more than 8,800 have died; this is according to data from Johns Hopkins University in the United States.
Stay home and keep safe!
Remember, children are our future, until next week, take care.
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