COVID-19 is a contagious disease that was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei, China, in December 2019. It causes flu-like and respiratory symptoms and can be transmitted from person to person.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has observed that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads less efficiently than the influenza or flu virus, largely because it has a longer incubation period. A person with COVID-19, however, will on average spread it to more people than a person with seasonal flu. The WHO also notes that the illness caused by COVID-19 is much more severe than that of the flu, and has a higher mortality rate.
Common signs include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, chills, body ache, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia and severe acute respiratory syndrome.
How does this pandemic affect children?
- Although children have not been significantly affected by the virus at this point of the pandemic, they nevertheless are extremely vulnerable to cascading impacts of this emergency.
- The implementation of Community Quarantines under the Code Red Sublevel 2 limits and disables the ability of most Filipinos to generate and receive income.
- When family members are sick and cannot work or put food on the table, children are also put at a higher risk of malnutrition, diarrhea, pneumonia, and other killer diseases
- As their caregivers become fearful and anxious about the outbreak, this adversely affects children as they observe their caregivers’ behaviours and emotions for cues on how to manage their own feelings.
What is World Vision doing to help?
World Vision teams worldwide, and particularly in the Philippines, are doing all they can to keep children and their communities safe.
- World Vision is working with with local communities to amplify prevention and control messages, while also supporting the protection of children.
- While the number of health facilities and health workers in the country can still accommodate the number of growing cases to date, the risk remains high in the aspect of providing proper protection equipment among the medical frontliners, most especially in the public hospitals.
- In response, World Vision will support at least 100 health facilities with basic health facility disinfectant kits, provide medical front liners, including barangay health emergency response teams with personal protective equipment.
- World Vision is also committed to providing families with sanitation kits that include bath soaps, alcohol, face masks, toothpaste and toothbrushes.
- World Vision commits to provide them with access to temporary income through unconditional cash transfer initiatives. The most vulnerable due to risk of exposure will also be provided access to micro-insurances to address uncertainties of health medical needs.
World Vision’s Appeal
World Vision calls on everyone to heed the health department’s call to practice proper hygiene, particularly hand washing, amid COVID-19. Proper hand washing not only protects everyone, especially children from the coronavirus inspection, but also helps us against other diseases.
That everyone practices social distancing to fight the spread of coronavirus. World Vision also advocates for a clear program and support, especially to people whose livelihoods are threatened by the community quarantines. Failure to do so increases the risk of the whole population to further exposure to the virus.
We also ask that you do not panic but to take this time to spend more time with your children, do meaningful activities together and help them cope from the stress caused by the pandemic.
How can you protect yourself and your loved ones?
WHO standard recommendations for the general public to reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses are as follows:
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water;
- When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands;
- Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough;
- If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider;
- When visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of novel coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals;
- The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.
Should people wear masks?
The World Health Organization states that if you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected infection. The WHO states that a medical mask is not required, as no evidence is available on its usefulness to protect non-sick people. Some studies have shown that cloth masks actually increase the risk of influenza-like illness. However, masks might be worn in some countries according to local cultural habits. If masks are used, best practices should be followed on how to wear, remove, and dispose of them and on hand hygiene action after removal (see website below for advice regarding appropriate mask management).
Note: World Vision encourages any purchase of masks to be directed towards health professionals and not for public use in order to prevent a shortage of masks among doctors and nurses who really need them. However, in some cultural contexts governments require those in public to wear masks and in these cases mask purchase for communities is acceptable. Cloth masks should never be purchased or distributed.
Can the virus be treated?
Just like the common cold there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus. However, those infected with the virus should receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms, and those with severe illness should receive optimised supportive care such as oxygen.
How are governments trying to control the spread of the virus?
Many countries have closed schools, put restrictions on gatherings of people, and are increasing COVID-19 testing contact tracing. Some countries have imposed travel bans. The World Health Organization has been working closely with governments to track the spread of the disease and advise health authorities.
What is World Vision doing to respond?
We are responding in every country we work in, in one form or another. Our response to the most vulnerable people is centred on 17 countries, where we are focused on prevention of transmission, supporting health responses, and caring for children made vulnerable by this crisis.
How is this affecting your operations?
We are closely monitoring the situation which is changing by the day. We are providing travel guidance for staff as well as health information that is designed to keep them safe. We will also be led by government and local authority health guidance which may at times prevent travel or require people to work from home.
Are any sponsored children affected by coronavirus?
Although the virus is present in places where World Vision has existing development projects, we do not yet have notification of any children registered in our programmes being infected. We are working closely with our programmes to keep children safe.
What are your concerns for children and those you work with?
Countries with effective health systems are in a much better place to monitor, identify and treat those with the virus, as well as to prevent its spread. We are most concerned about countries where the health systems and monitoring are weak, where people may already be suffering from diseases which are common among the poor, such as malaria, TB, pneumonia, HIV and AIDS, and Ebola or where immune systems are compromised by severe malnutrition. People living in these contexts are at greater risk from coronavirus.
You can send much-needed help to equip families by providing them supplies which they can use to fight the COVID-19 pandemic , click the image to donate.