Caring for a child in quarantine while awaiting for their COVID-19 test result.
October 22, 2020 | With the second wave of COVID-19 upon us, cases have been detected in several day care centres and classrooms in Québec. When this happens, all the children of the affected group have to stay home. What does this mean for your family’s daily routine?
The ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS) has published guidelines for people identified as contacts of a confirmed case of COVID-19. The document in question explains the steps to take to avoid transmission between family members. Among other things, the MSSS recommends that the quarantined person remains alone in a room as much as possible, avoid being in contact with others and when contact is necessary, keep a distance of 2 metres, and they should sleep alone in a room.
The MSSS has confirmed those guidelines also apply to children, but the ministry says, “people should use their judgement.” Indeed, because those guidelines can be difficult to apply with a very young child. What do you do in such a case? We spoke about this with Dr. Caroline Quach, epidemiologist at Ste-Justine UHC.
What precautions should be taken while our child is quarantined?
“Ideally, you should try to maintain a distance of 2 metres between the child and other members of the family,” says Dr. Quach. “Nonetheless, it is obvious that a young child cannot be quarantined completely on their own.”
The presence of a person with a chronic health issue that makes them susceptible to complications may require additional precautions. Obviously, that person should not be the one caring for the child.
According to the epidemiologist, acting according to the child’s level of tolerance and maturity is important. “The goal is finding a balance between the risk of infection and their psychological well-being,” she adds. “In the case of a young child, I would include them in the family’s activities.”
Moreover, Health Canada recommends that parents caring for a child who might have COVID-19 to frequently wash their hands and those of their child.
What about mealtime and bedtime?
When it’s time to sit down and eat, the quarantined child can eat with the rest of the family. “Just sit them a little further,” says Dr. Caroline Quach.
Still according to Health Canada, a child who might be infected with COVID-19 should not share their food and drink with other members of the family. The same goes for their utensils, towels and toothbrushes.
“If the child usually shares a bedroom with a sibling, they should probably sleep in a separate room, temporarily,” adds the epidemiologist.
Can the child play with their siblings?
According to Dr. Caroline Quach, a quarantined child can play with their siblings. “They should play at a distance and stay 2 metres away,” she explains. “They could, for example, play board games that make it easier to keep a safe distance.” A quarantined child can easily play outside without any problem, says the epidemiologist.
Is it necessary to wear a mask inside the house?
Dr. Quach says parents with a condition that has a risk of complications could wear a mask when they need to get closer to their child. If the child is over 2 years old and tolerates the mask well, they could also wear it in situations where it is more difficult to keep a distance of 2 metres. This could be the case, for example, if they wish to play in closer proximity of their siblings.
Sources: MSSS and Gouvernement du Canada
Kathleen Couillard – Naître et grandir