Health Advice for Parents: Prevention of COVID-19 Disease and Respiratory Tract Infection

(Content revised 02/2022)

To prevent COVID-19 Disease and respiratory tract infection, children should avoid going out and should not go to crowded places or participate in mass gathering. Moreover, they should not be in contact with persons having respiratory symptoms. If they need to go out, they should wear a surgical mask properly. Parents should also take note of the following day to day preventive measures:

Maintaining the Household Hygiene

  • Keep windows open. Use fan or exhaust fan to improve the indoor ventilation if needed.
  • Children should have their own tableware, drinking cups, tooth mugs, toothbrushes and towels.
  • Clean and disinfect objects that are frequently touched with 1:99 diluted household bleach (mix 1 part of 5.25% bleach with 99 parts of water for non-metal surface and use 70% alcohol for metal surface) daily, for example, toys, tools, furniture, toilet, bathroom and floor. Let dry, then clean with water and wipe dry.
  • Ensure the U-trap of drainage pipes are filled with water to prevent spreading of germs.

Pay Attention to Your Child's Health

  • Observe your child daily for symptoms, such as cough and runny nose.
  • It is extremely inaccurate and unreliable to feel for body temperature by touching the forehead. If it is needed to measure your child's body temperature, it should be taken with an ear thermometer. Please refer to the leaflet “Managing Your Baby's Fever”.

Teach Your Child Proper Hand Washing and Pay Attention to Personal Hygiene

  • Always keep the hands clean, avoid touching around.
  • Wash hands with liquid soap and water before and after meals, after using the toilet or after touching unclean objects. Remember to clean fingers and wrists during hand washing and rub the hands for at least 20 seconds. If washing hands with water is not possible or if the hands are not visibly soiled, 70-80% alcohol-based handrub can be used instead.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth before thorough hand washing.
  • Cover the nose and mouth with tissue paper when sneezing or coughing. Phlegm should be wrapped in tissue paper and disposed into a lidded rubbish bin. Clean hands thoroughly afterwards. If tissue paper is not available, cover with top clothes or sleeves.
  • After using the toilet, put the toilet lid down before flushing, then wash hands thoroughly.
  • When adults arrive home after being out, wash hands and face and get changed immediately before contacting children. Clothes should be washed or placed in well-ventilated area for at least 1 day. Shoes should be cleansed and placed in well-ventilated area, wash hands afterwards.

Allow Children to Stay at Home as Much as Possible

  • Children should stay at home during school suspension. Avoid joining group extra-curricular activities and going to playgrounds.
  • Stop all hobby classes or tutorials to minimise the chance of cross-infection.
  • Set a daily routine for your child to balance the time of revision and playing. Arrange appropriate activities with them, e.g. reading, drawing, making art-work, playing puzzles, or even inviting them to help out with some simple domestic work.
  • If it is needed to go out for leisure activities, go to less crowded places such as the countryside.

Proper Use of Face Masks (including surgical masks and cloth face coverings)

  • Choose the appropriate mask size. Child size is available for selection as indicated:
    • Face mask (including surgical masks and cloth face coverings) is not recommended for children under the age of 2 years without supervision.
    • For newborns and young children under 2, there would be a chance of suffocation or other health risks if face mask is not properly used. In addition, young children like to touch or pull the mask on their face which increase the chance of infection.
    • Parents are advised to let infants and young children stay at home as much as possible and avoid bringing them to unnecessary social gathering or playgrounds. If there is a need to go out, choose less crowded places and remember to keep the social distance between children and other people, and avoid touching things around.
    • Caretaker should ensure their own hygiene before handling young children. Keep your hands clean and wear mask when feeding your baby.
  • Teach your older child to wear face mask properly:
    • Wash hands before and after putting on / taking off a mask.
    • Identify the side of that should face outwards (e.g. the coloured side / the side with folds facing downwards of most surgical masks). Then position the elastic bands around both ears. Make sure the mask fully covers mouth, nose and chin. For face mask with metallic strip, it should be placed over the nose bridge and lastly mould it to fit snugly over the face.
    • Do not touch the mask after putting it on.
  • In general, surgical mask is not designed for repeated use; it should be disposed after being used.

Help Your Child to Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle to Build Up the Immunity

  • Exercise with your children often and have a balanced diet.
  • Ensure there is adequate rest and sleep.
  • Keep your body clean always.
  • Continue breastfeeding your child. There are antibodies in breastmilk providing extra protection to your baby. If mother is ill, she may express breastmilk for baby to feed on.

Vaccination protects children against COVID-19 disease to effectively decrease the rates of serious illness and death. Parents can visit the designated website of the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme for details and learn more about the FAQs.

If your child suffers from COVID-19 disease, parent and carer needs to record the date and time when the child starts to have symptom(s) of infection, regular observe his/her condition and measure body temperature, enhance personal and household hygiene; call an ambulance to the hospital at once if your child develops breathing difficulty, persistent high fever, convulsion, or poor oral intake. You can refer to the recommendations from The Hong Kong Paediatric Society for details.