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Facts and advice on the coronavirus Covid-19. Directed by pediatricians. Many are afraid of the new coronavirus. As a pediatrician with a specialty in prevention and protection against infectious diseases, I am not afraid of the coronavirus. This virus is new, so it can infect anyone who encounters it, but from what you can see, most people seem to get a cold or flu-like illness. Some people can get pneumonia.
Symptoms of coronavirus covid-19
The first symptoms of coronavirus covid-19 are often coughing, body aches and fever. Similar to a flu. Some people get very mild symptoms, and many get a flu-like illness which requires them to rest for a week or so. Most of them recover. After a few weeks, a few people can get pneumonia and will need hospital treatment. Some of them become very seriously ill and need intensive care. About 0.5-1% of all those infected die. It is mainly the elderly people and those with underlying chronic diseases who are most at risk of dying. However the outbreak in Italy has also seen adults affected by the virus become severely ill. Even in the European outbreak, it seems extremely rare for children to have Covid-19.
Can I or my child have coronavirus?
Yes. Since the beginning of March, the spread of infection has begun to take off in Swedish society. If you or your child have cold symptoms or fever, you should assume that you have coronavirus and isolate yourself at home. This is to slow down the spread of infection in society so that the health care system can keep up with increasing demand during this time. You should certainly avoid meeting older people such as your grandparents at the moment, even if you’re healthy.
To get the latest medical news about the outbreak, I recommend the Public Health Agency’s (Folkhälsomyndighetens) page.
Treatment of coronavirus in children
There is no anti-virus medicine that is known to have an effect against the coronavirus. All existing ones are, of course, being tested by laboratories and in infection clinics around the world now. The treatment is thus the same as in all other cases of respiratory infections in children. Make sure that your children drink plenty of liquids and some form of energy, i.e. liquid with sugar in it and resume eating food as normal. If your children are too tired to drink, give alvedon (paracetamol) or ipren (ibuprofen) or both. If your children are having difficulties breathing, seek the emergency department. Emergency departments should now be rearranged in order to be able to accommodate people with Covid-19 safely. If you arrive to an emergency room which doesn’t have a tent outside for suspected corona disease – stay outside and avoid spreading infection into the emergency room.
Protecting grandparents from the coronavirus.
Older people are generally more likely to become seriously ill from respiratory infections. That particularly applies if they contract coronavirus. The mortality rate among older people is likely to be a few percent of those affected, with the risk increasing the older you get. So grandparents should not take care of sick grandchildren, and especially now as coronavirus begins to spread in Sweden.
Should you travel abroad now with the coronavirus covid-19 spreading?
No. The Foreign Ministry advises against travelling any country.
For the latest news on the societal impact of the outbreak and current travel recommendations, krisinformation.se has an excellent page on the coronavirus.
Will the health care system survive an outbreak of coronavirus?
Many are of course worried about whether the Swedish healthcare system will cope with the increased load resulting from a possible outbreak of coronavirus in Sweden. Rightly so. Hospitals are of course planning for changes in care, staff appointments, etc. and will increase their capacity to the max. But the fact remains that healthcare in Sweden already has very few inpatient places. The emergency departments in many places are overloaded, and it will be more difficult now with the coronavirus outbreak. By taking joint responsibility and only seeking care in case of respiratory problems or severe general impact, we can all ease the strain on the health care system. We should isolate ourselves at home at the slightest cold symptom to reduce the rate of infection in society.
Information about coronavirus for children and young adults.
Coronavirus from China in pregnant women
A new scientific publication on nine pregnant women infected with the new coronavirus shows that they became mildly ill and their children were not infected at birth. Great. But nine pregnant women is certainly not enough to make a conclusion, so this still remains uncertain.
If you want to know more about the coronavirus from China, please visit the Swedish Public Health Agency. Public health experts will update that page as soon as new facts arrive. Information will be updated frequently now as more research is being conducted on the new virus. Unfortunately, new myths and conspiracy theories, too, will arise, so it is wise to stick to reliable sources.
Questions about coronavirus?
I recommend that you start listening to the radio segment with infectious disease doctor Lisa Labbé Sandelin from Sveriges Radio. There, she answers many common questions about the coronavirus and also raises the question of how you can talk to your children.