In recent weeks, the coronavirus has spread to many parts of the globe, leaving people unsure and afraid of what might happen next. What exactly is the coronavirus and how will it affect you?
- COVID-19 is a newly discovered coronavirus. Other coronaviruses, such as SARS and MERS, have been around for a while. If you look at a coronavirus under a microscope, you’ll see an organism that looks a little like a crown with pointy spikes tipped with blobs (corona means “crown”).
- Most people who get COVID-19 will have mild symptoms similar to a cold or flu. These might include fever, body aches, a cough, or a harder time breathing. Some people don’t show any symptoms at all. Children, in particular, do not get very sick.
- Hospitals offer tests to tell if you have coronavirus. If you do have it, you’ll need to stay at home for two or three weeks, even if you’re feeling okay. This quarantine helps prevent the illness from spreading to other people.
- Some people, especially older people and those with serious medical conditions, can become really sick, which is why it’s important to stay home if you get coronavirus.
- We know that COVID-19 spreads more quickly in large groups. Because of this, schools might close and conferences, meetings, and events might be cancelled. Your parents might work from home for a few weeks.
- Handwashing (and avoiding large groups or people who are sick) is one of the best ways to stay healthy. Wash your hands for 30 seconds with soap and warm water before you eat, after you have been outside or at school, and after you use the bathroom or wipe your nose.
- Cough and sneeze into a tissue or the bend in your elbow. Throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Use a hand sanitizer when you don’t have soap and water.
- You might be hearing information about COVID-19 at school. Chances are, not everything you hear is accurate. Talk with your parents about what you hear. Make sure you are getting accurate information from a credible source like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Coronavirus: a type of virus that infects both humans and animals and can pass from animal to human
- Quarantine: to stay at home in isolation in response to a disease
- Credible: trustworthy, knowledgeable
Questions and Answers
Question: Someone at school said that Asian people spread the disease. Is that true?
Answer: The coronavirus first appeared in a market in China; however, anyone can get the coronavirus no matter where you live or what you look like. The coronavirus is no one’s fault and blaming others is not helpful. Instead, we can show empathy and compassion to those who have become sick.
Question: Why are people buying lots of groceries and soap?
Answer: If someone gets sick and is quarantined for several weeks, it’s helpful to have some basic supplies on hand. However, stockpiling lots of soap, toilet paper, and other items isn’t necessary and might mean that other people won’t have what they need. If we each prepare wisely, taking just what we need, we can protect our communities more effectively.
Question: What will happen if my family is quarantined?
Answer: Quarantines are not a new thing. Communities have used this method for hundreds of years to control disease. If you are quarantined, you and your family will need to help each other and show patience. You might have moments when you feel scared, bored, or angry.
Your parents might still need to work and you might do schoolwork virtually. You might spend more time playing board games, reading, talking, or doing crafts with your family. You might watch movies or make a fort in the living room.
If your family is sick, you might find quiet things to do. Humans need emotional connection so it’s important to keep talking with friends and family, even if it’s digitally or via the phone.
Question: What can I do if I feel scared?
Answer: First, remember that it’s normal and okay to feel scared. The coronavirus is new and we are still figuring out how to respond to it. Understand that parents, teachers, and other caring adults are there to keep you safe.
Government and medical officials are working hard to find solutions, such as a vaccine. Talk with a grownup you trust if you have questions.
Sometimes when we are scared, it is helpful to do something for someone else. Talk with your parents about the needs in your community. Is there something your family can do? Watching lots of news coverage can make us feel anxious.
Get the facts, then turn off the television, and do something else. Go for a walk, read a good book, listen to music, or spend time with loved ones.
Here are a few credible sources to get information:
Check out this comic from NPR.