Recently, the official guidelines from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention for the COVID-19 pandemic control and prevention have added that all children aged two and above should also wear a face mask along with adults in order to avoid contracting coronavirus infection.
Previously, there was a debate on whether everyone should wear a mask or not during the pandemic. A number of researchers stated that masks only help people who have already contracted the virus and are showing symptoms such as coughing and sneezing.
By wearing a mask, an infected person can effectively hinder the further spread of the virus and not infect other people around him. However, a few weeks ago, health experts, including those at Harvard Health, suggested everyone should indeed wear a mask.
Using data from previous research as evidence, they emphasized on how masks have made a difference in control of diseases prior to COVID-19 as well.
However, the main problem with wearing a mask is that there is a shortage of them in the majority of the countries. This is not only affecting common people but also people in health care who are working at the front lines in coronavirus health facilities and wards.
In addition, there was also a concern regarding the potential problems caused by wearing a mask constantly, though this is a problem majorly for the doctors and other health care workers.
Wearing a mask consistently can cause problems including skin damage and even difficulty in breathing. People who wear- ill-fitted masks are usually the ones facing such issues.
For addressing both of these issues, the previous update in CDC’s guidelines for COVID-19 stated that people working in fields other than health care should also wear a mask but should also stick to fabric masks.
Specialized masks such as N95 are a requirement only for people working in hospital settings and are not needed by common people.
A fabric mask is not likely to cause any skin issues or difficulty in breathing as well as help with the shortage of masks in the market.
Now, the recent update from CDC also mentions that fabric masks should also be worn by children who are as young as two years old. Prior to the update, a CDC study showed that the majority of children with COVID-19 do not usually display symptoms.
It is a possibility that cases of the coronavirus infection in children are asymptomatic in most cases or children may just show different symptoms.
For instance, a report from last week showed a sign of COVID-19 which is not common in adults but has been noticed in children and teenagers – lesions on the feet. However, this is not yet confirmed.
Overall, children can play a fundamental role in further transmission of COVID-19 due to being asymptomatic. The chief of the division of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Children’s Hospital, Dr. John Williams explains that “asymptomatic infection is common in children, occurring in 10-30% of cases.”
According to health experts, the best way to make children wear a face mask is by making it exciting for them along with telling them about the importance of it for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Deborah Gilboa, who is a youth development speaker and family physician, suggests that parents can let their children decorate the mask and pick a favorite color in them if there are options.
Not only will this will make the activity fun for children but also make them wear the mask when needed as they had more autonomy in choosing it, thereby cutting down the risk of preventing or spreading COVID-19.