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Coronavirus: Are children allowed to leave the house in the UAE?

The UAE has banned children under 12 and people over the age of 60 from visiting shops and malls. So, where can children go?

How dangerous is the coronavirus for children?

Studies have shown that children are less susceptible to developing the most serious complications of Covid-19, but they are not immune to it.

“People of any age, including children and infants, can be infected by the virus,” said Dr Maurice Khoury, specialist paediatrician at Healthpoint. “However, children have relatively milder clinical manifestations.”

Serious symptoms occasionally develop in children. In recent weeks, there have been reports of children developing a severe inflammatory disease in the UK, Italy and the US, that could be connected to the virus.

 

In late April, the Paediatric Intensive Care Society spoke of “an apparent rise in the number of children presenting with a multi-system inflammatory state requiring intensive care" in London and other parts of the UK.”

And on Tuesday, authorities in New York City revealed that 15 children had recently been admitted to hospital with the symptoms.

The Kawasaki disease-like condition, which causes a high fever and swollen arteries, was seen in both paediatric patients who had tested positive for coronavirus, and some that had not, as well as others who may have had the disease.

A small number of children have also died after being infected with Covid-19, including some who did not have any underlying conditions, according to British Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

 

Can parents take their children out of the house?

Yes. Children are permitted to leave the home for exercise across the UAE but they must remain within their neighbourhood.

When restrictions were eased in Dubai last month, authorities initially said children were not permitted to exercise outside. However, the government has since clarified the position.

“Children may accompany their parents to walk in their neighbourhood for one to two hours, so long as they are taking the right precautions of adhering to the social distancing measures, limiting the number to three people only and wearing face masks,” authorities said.

It was not advisable to take children under the age of three outside. But if parents could ensure their children were protected and prevented from touching surfaces, they could also go outside.

How can parents protect children if they go outside?

Dr Khoury said children should maintain physical distancing, limit groups to a maximum of three people and be encouraged to wash their hands regularly and well.

"Because the novel coronavirus causing Covid-19 is a highly infectious virus that can be transmitted through respiratory droplets and that can live on surfaces for a long period of time, the primary focus for parents should be touch contact prevention for their children," said Dr Khoury.

“Clean your hands by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60 per cent alcohol.

“If hands are visibly dirty, soap and water should be used."

Do all children have to wear masks, even babies?

Yes, everyone leaving home is required to wear a face mask.

The Dubai government said a face mask is “a must” for everybody and pointed out there were types made for children.

However, the American Academy of Pediatrics has shared concerns about the possible risk of strangulation and choking for children below the age of two.

And Dr Khoury said masks can be very difficult for young children and toddlers, who may be unwilling to wear them, to use.

It may also not be easy to find one to fit.

"A poorly fitted mask does not provide any preventive effects and would represent a false sense of security which is why I always recommend parents to avoid taking their children out," said Dr Khoury.