What do parents of small children want to know about coronavirus?

With schools and nurseries shut, parents with young children are certainly feeling the effects of the pandemic. And they have a crucial job in keeping their kids safe and healthy – both physically and mentally. But do they feel they are being given the information they need? We asked them. Here’s what they want to know.

Infection control/safety

  • How long does it live on fabric?

  • Does washing powder kill/remove it?

  • Do I need to wash the outside of my shopping?

  • Should I wash the outside of shopping if I am delivering it to vulnerable neighbour?

  • How long does the virus live on paper? And what temperature is enough to deactivate it? Context – My parents are literally petrified of my granny catching it from the newspaper (not enough to stop her getting it but she is stone deaf and partially sighted – it’s literally the only media she can ‘use’. ) So much so they are BAKING the newspaper and her post (electric oven, 20min at 120C) but I can’t find out if that’s hot enough or long enough to kill the virus.

  • Do I need to shower/wash my hair when I get home from work in a school?

  • Masks. Do masks work? I mean home made fabric ones for every day people, who need to go shopping etc? And not for protecting them from the virus, but reducing any virus from them infecting other people. I’ve seen so much conflicting stuff, and the government is still insisting they aren’t necessary, and that they are following the science. But I’m not convinced they are, especially if you look at what other countries are doing. So rather than looking at whether using masks when I public protect an individual, do they protect wider society?

  • Big question – why the hell are we still allowing passenger jets /aeroplanes to come into the country?

  • Why weren’t we testing and quarantining people coming from hotspots like Italy, weeks ago?

  • Can other contagious illnesses be eradicated as a by product of quarantine/lockdown/social distancing? If so, when self-isolating, how come people are still getting colds and other viruses?


  • More information on the range of symptoms and duration. We are on day 25 of a 37.6 to 38 fever for my five year old (cough for two weeks now gone). GP is monitoring. But I’ve not read of many mild infections taking this long.

  • I work in Children’s A&E. Our footfall is down, our concern is that children sick with other things are staying away. Children with Covid are also often presenting quite differently and there is also a concern that they are showing no Covid symptoms but it’s triggering issues with chronic illnesses, the other issue is as they are generally not that ill with it they are being discharged and therefore not swabbed so we have no idea if they have or just colds.

The effects of isolation

  • The mental health implications of a lock down for different categories: children, people living alone, etc

  • I’m also interested in the impact of touch – we/our children are only hugging those in our household ATM. But what impact will this have on social interactions when we go back to ‘normal’ – children are so instinctive with touch and how will this affect different age groups in the short and long term.

  • Yes, I’m wondering this too. I’m not a super-huggy person normally, but right now I’m desperate to hug my friends! But when I actually can, will it have become so ingrained that it feels weird?
    And yes, for small children, at a sensitive period of their development, will it make them grow up really physically awkward with each other?

  • I’m worrying about my 3yo, whether being isolated from her peers at this stage in her development is going to affect her language development and her social skills?
    I feel lucky to be in lockdown with my very cuddly 6yo, so of course I am getting physical touch from him (and him from me). What is this doing to people who live alone? They won’t have touched anyone for months by the end…

  • Could we do a citizen science project? Ooooo, could we plot mental health/happiness against daily exercise? It’s probably fairly easy to chart how much exercise teens are getting and get them to do a mental health questionnaire. Then we could get them to do MORE exercise and see if anything changes. We could compare 60mins walking to 2mins skipping etc…. Oh the possibilities!

  • This is going to be more of a long term thing, but I keep wondering if prevalence of agoraphobia is going to go up after this. I’ve only been out once in the last 3.5 weeks and I found it incredibly anxiety inducing. Can’t help wondering if others might feel the same and it be taken to an extreme.

The epidemiology

  • When my school ‘got TB’ we were very quickly able to work out the average number of hours of exposure it was before someone caught it. We could also work out the percentage risk if you’d spent 10 or 20hrs with the source case. Do we have that sort of data for Covid?

  • Interesting to see Sweden’s very different approach to it and which in hindsight will be a ‘better’ approach.

  • I suspect this is because we don’t know yet, but I want to know if it’s thought that getting it then confers immunity. I have had it (proven by swab test) and I kind of want to know how cautious I should be. I’m a midwife and work in the hospital and in the community. I’m washing my clothes and showering when I get home. And keeping my phone in a sandwich bag while I’m at work and wiping it down along with my lunch box when I get home. Not sure if this is necessary. I’m hearing that healthcare workers are dying because they are being exposed to it over and over and I want to avoid bringing it home over and over to my kids. But maybe it’s just paranoia?!

  • Why are men and ethnic minorities reported as being proportionately worse affected and indeed is this actually true? What proportion of those reported as dying from covid-19 are dying as a direct result and not as the effect of covid-19 on destabilising a pre-existing condition? What host factors are involved in someone having a cytokine storm if they are an otherwise fit healthy individual?

  • I don’t understand how the virus won’t spike again with increasing deaths once the lockdown is relaxed and people start mixing again going back to school work etc?

  • Is the idea of lockdown just that we delay inevitable deaths so the nhs can cope. Does it mean a further lockdown / lockdowns will be needed until a vaccine or medication/treatment is available?

Death rates

  • What the *actual* death rate is per day. The daily total isn’t necessarily the deaths in the last 24 hours and I think that’s quite confusing. What I’m saying is that they acknowledge that that figure is made up from deaths recorded over a number of days, and I wonder if there’s a central list of all of the updated daily figures.

  • How many people are actually dying from it as opposed to dying and happen to test positive for it anyway? I had been wondering this anyway and seen some interesting articles on how much higher if much than the forecast annual death rate this will lead to.

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