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Keeping our Children Safe from COVID-19 during GCQ

As Metro Manila and some parts of the country shifted to general community quarantine on Monday, parents returning to their workplaces are understandably concerned about the risk of contracting the virus and transferring that risk to their children and other family members waiting for them at home.

Dr. Cynthia Aguirre, a Pediatric Infectious Disease specialist at The Medical City (TMC), said parents and caregivers should be well aware of the information and facts about COVID-19 to help them put safety measures in place to protect themselves and their children from being infected. Basic information such as how the infection spreads and how transmission can be prevented are essential.

Dr. Aguirre was one of the speakers during the webinar held by the TMC Institute of Pediatrics on May 30, 2020 dubbed “Back to Work in the New Normal” which aimed to help parents navigate through the new normal to be able to protect themselves and their children.

Some of the topics discussed were occupational risks, changes in the workplace, and personal protective measures.

The speakers emphasized that by ensuring that parents know how to protect themselves from the virus and that their workplaces are safe, they can reduce the risk of bringing home the infection to their children.


General Health Tips

Masks are essential accessories in the new normal. Dr. Aguirre advised on how to properly put on, take off, and dispose of face masks. She emphasized that the mask should cover both the mouth and the nose ensuring that there are no gaps between the face and the mask. When taking off the mask, it is important to remove it from behind (ensuring the front of the mask is not touched) and immediately discarding it in a closed bin. Hand hygiene should always be practiced during this process.

As cloth face masks are now more accessible to the public, it is recommended to wear them in public areas where physical distancing may be difficult to ensure. The cloth face mask may not protect the person from the virus but it can slow down its spread.

When it comes to using gloves, Dr. Aguirre said it is better to practice proper and frequent hand washing as COVID-19 may still be picked up from contaminated gloves if these are worn and the person unintentionally touches his or her face.

In the absence of soap and water, alcohol-based sanitizers can be used. It is important to take note of the concentration of the solution and the proper amount of exposure needed to ensure its effectivity. The following substances have been shown to be safe for skin use and 99.99% effective in protecting against the coronavirus when properly used:


DISINFECTANT

CONCENTRATION

EXPOSURE

Ethanol

60-95%

30 seconds

Isopropanol

60-80%

30 seconds

Povidone Iodine

0.25%

60 seconds


1%, 4%, or 7.5%

15 seconds

Benzalkonium Chrloride

0.05%

10 minutes


0.1%

5 minutes


When it comes to disinfecting surfaces, Dr. Aguirre provided six steps to ensure effective disinfection:

  1. Make sure the product is Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved.
  2. Read the directions carefully.
  3. Pre-clean the surface prior to disinfection.
  4. Follow the contact time specified for the solution to be effective.
  5. Wear gloves and wash your hands after removing the gloves.
  6. Lock up the disinfectant where it cannot be reached by children.


Safety in the Workplace

The hierarchy of controls was also discussed to help employers protect their employees.

  1. Elimination – physically removing the hazard
  2. Substitution – replacing the hazard to lower the risk
  3. Engineering controls – isolating people from hazard through changes in physical setup including improvements in the ventilation system, creation of protective barriers, and offering drive-through services
  4. Administrative control – changing the way people work including options in how tasks are done or delivered by employees such as work from home scheme and maximizing the use of online platforms
  5. Protecting workers with the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

To help determine occupational risks of being infected by COVID-19, Dr. Aguirre discussed the different levels of risk based on the kind of work a person does. Based on the pyramid on risk assessment, majority of the workforce are categorized as low to medium risk. Therefore, the use of a mask, physical distancing, proper hand hygiene, and cough etiquette are encouraged.

Apart from these, some tips Dr. Aguirre provided for those rejoining the workforce include avoiding people with colds or flu-like symptoms, cleaning/disinfecting high-touch surfaces (phones, keyboards, etc.), and seeking medical assistance as early as possible. She also mentioned setting up soft barriers such as the use of tables, chairs, ropes, signs, and floor markings to maintain physical distancing.

Other steps to promote physical distancing and avoid close contact in the workplace include the following:

  • Sit further apart across the workspace to ensure a two-meter distance.
  • Take turns using the kitchen/pantry.
  • Opt for virtual conferencing and group chats.
  • Discourage non-essential visitors.
  • Instead of a handshake, do either a wave, nod, bow, feet tap, or elbow bump.

The outbreak of COVID-19 is indeed stressful as fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and can cause strong emotions both in adults and children. Parents cannot take care of their kids if they are not well. Thus, it is important for parents to do what they can to practice good self-care and keep a good perspective.


Protecting Children from Infection

One of the best ways to protect children from infection is through proper hand hygiene. Only children above two years old can wear face masks as they can already remove the mask by themselves when necessary.

Children below two as well as those with special needs and disabilities who would have difficulty removing the mask on their own are not recommended to wear face masks to prevent the risk of suffocation.

“Never leave a used face mask within reach of children because they might play with it or wear it which may cause them to be infected,” said Dr. Aguirre.

In addition to this, the following measures are encouraged to prevent infection among children:

  • Teach or reinforce everyday preventive skills.
  • Launder toys and other items which may be soiled since infection may spread through fomites.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Discourage non-essential visits to and from other homes.
  • Limit time with other children.
  • Maintain a six-foot distance from anyone who is not from your household.
  • Maintain social connections through supervised phone calls and video chats.


Dr. Aguirre likewise enumerated the following reasons why parents should still bring their children to their Pediatricians:

  • Newborn visits
  • To keep up-to-date on immunizations
  • Hearing and vision screening
  • To monitor feeding, growth, blood pressure, and other vital signs
  • To check for anemia
  • To treat infections and injuries
  • For adolescent health concerns

It is also best to call the doctor’s clinic first and find out what precautions they are taking to keep children safe during in-person appointment.

As there is currently no vaccine against COVID-19, the new normal entails living with it. As such, it is everyone’s responsibility to keep the children safe and homes infection-free, moving forward to the new normal.


For inquiries, contact the Institute of Pediatrics at 8-988-1000/8-988-7000 Ext. 6322.

Read more

June 05, 2020

Keeping our Children Safe from COVID-19 during GCQ

As Metro Manila and some parts of the country shifted to general community quarantine on Monday, parents returning to their workplaces are understandably concerned about the risk of contracting the virus and transferring that risk to their children and other family members waiting for them at home.

Dr. Cynthia Aguirre, a Pediatric Infectious Disease specialist at The Medical City (TMC), said parents and caregivers should be well aware of the information and facts about COVID-19 to help them put safety measures in place to protect themselves and their children from being infected. Basic information such as how the infection spreads and how transmission can be prevented are essential.

Dr. Aguirre was one of the speakers during the webinar held by the TMC Institute of Pediatrics on May 30, 2020 dubbed “Back to Work in the New Normal” which aimed to help parents navigate through the new normal to be able to protect themselves and their children.

Some of the topics discussed were occupational risks, changes in the workplace, and personal protective measures.

The speakers emphasized that by ensuring that parents know how to protect themselves from the virus and that their workplaces are safe, they can reduce the risk of bringing home the infection to their children.


General Health Tips

Masks are essential accessories in the new normal. Dr. Aguirre advised on how to properly put on, take off, and dispose of face masks. She emphasized that the mask should cover both the mouth and the nose ensuring that there are no gaps between the face and the mask. When taking off the mask, it is important to remove it from behind (ensuring the front of the mask is not touched) and immediately discarding it in a closed bin. Hand hygiene should always be practiced during this process.

As cloth face masks are now more accessible to the public, it is recommended to wear them in public areas where physical distancing may be difficult to ensure. The cloth face mask may not protect the person from the virus but it can slow down its spread.

When it comes to using gloves, Dr. Aguirre said it is better to practice proper and frequent hand washing as COVID-19 may still be picked up from contaminated gloves if these are worn and the person unintentionally touches his or her face.

In the absence of soap and water, alcohol-based sanitizers can be used. It is important to take note of the concentration of the solution and the proper amount of exposure needed to ensure its effectivity. The following substances have been shown to be safe for skin use and 99.99% effective in protecting against the coronavirus when properly used:


DISINFECTANT

CONCENTRATION

EXPOSURE

Ethanol

60-95%

30 seconds

Isopropanol

60-80%

30 seconds

Povidone Iodine

0.25%

60 seconds


1%, 4%, or 7.5%

15 seconds

Benzalkonium Chrloride

0.05%

10 minutes


0.1%

5 minutes


When it comes to disinfecting surfaces, Dr. Aguirre provided six steps to ensure effective disinfection:

  1. Make sure the product is Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved.
  2. Read the directions carefully.
  3. Pre-clean the surface prior to disinfection.
  4. Follow the contact time specified for the solution to be effective.
  5. Wear gloves and wash your hands after removing the gloves.
  6. Lock up the disinfectant where it cannot be reached by children.


Safety in the Workplace

The hierarchy of controls was also discussed to help employers protect their employees.

  1. Elimination – physically removing the hazard
  2. Substitution – replacing the hazard to lower the risk
  3. Engineering controls – isolating people from hazard through changes in physical setup including improvements in the ventilation system, creation of protective barriers, and offering drive-through services
  4. Administrative control – changing the way people work including options in how tasks are done or delivered by employees such as work from home scheme and maximizing the use of online platforms
  5. Protecting workers with the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

To help determine occupational risks of being infected by COVID-19, Dr. Aguirre discussed the different levels of risk based on the kind of work a person does. Based on the pyramid on risk assessment, majority of the workforce are categorized as low to medium risk. Therefore, the use of a mask, physical distancing, proper hand hygiene, and cough etiquette are encouraged.

Apart from these, some tips Dr. Aguirre provided for those rejoining the workforce include avoiding people with colds or flu-like symptoms, cleaning/disinfecting high-touch surfaces (phones, keyboards, etc.), and seeking medical assistance as early as possible. She also mentioned setting up soft barriers such as the use of tables, chairs, ropes, signs, and floor markings to maintain physical distancing.

Other steps to promote physical distancing and avoid close contact in the workplace include the following:

  • Sit further apart across the workspace to ensure a two-meter distance.
  • Take turns using the kitchen/pantry.
  • Opt for virtual conferencing and group chats.
  • Discourage non-essential visitors.
  • Instead of a handshake, do either a wave, nod, bow, feet tap, or elbow bump.

The outbreak of COVID-19 is indeed stressful as fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and can cause strong emotions both in adults and children. Parents cannot take care of their kids if they are not well. Thus, it is important for parents to do what they can to practice good self-care and keep a good perspective.


Protecting Children from Infection

One of the best ways to protect children from infection is through proper hand hygiene. Only children above two years old can wear face masks as they can already remove the mask by themselves when necessary.

Children below two as well as those with special needs and disabilities who would have difficulty removing the mask on their own are not recommended to wear face masks to prevent the risk of suffocation.

“Never leave a used face mask within reach of children because they might play with it or wear it which may cause them to be infected,” said Dr. Aguirre.

In addition to this, the following measures are encouraged to prevent infection among children:

  • Teach or reinforce everyday preventive skills.
  • Launder toys and other items which may be soiled since infection may spread through fomites.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Discourage non-essential visits to and from other homes.
  • Limit time with other children.
  • Maintain a six-foot distance from anyone who is not from your household.
  • Maintain social connections through supervised phone calls and video chats.


Dr. Aguirre likewise enumerated the following reasons why parents should still bring their children to their Pediatricians:

  • Newborn visits
  • To keep up-to-date on immunizations
  • Hearing and vision screening
  • To monitor feeding, growth, blood pressure, and other vital signs
  • To check for anemia
  • To treat infections and injuries
  • For adolescent health concerns

It is also best to call the doctor’s clinic first and find out what precautions they are taking to keep children safe during in-person appointment.

As there is currently no vaccine against COVID-19, the new normal entails living with it. As such, it is everyone’s responsibility to keep the children safe and homes infection-free, moving forward to the new normal.


For inquiries, contact the Institute of Pediatrics at 8-988-1000/8-988-7000 Ext. 6322.

Read more

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