What do I do if my parents get sick? Your COVID-19 questions answered — kids’ edition | CBC News

Today’s edition is a little different — We’ve teamed up with CBC Kids News to answer questions from, well, kids! So today’s FAQ is devoted to them. As always, you can continue sending us your questions about the pandemic via email to COVID@cbc.ca, no matter how old you are, and we’ll try our best to answer as many as we can.

What should I do if both of my parents catch COVID-19?

Nicholas is 12 years old and lives in Fredericton. He wants to know what happens if both of his parents catch COVID-19.

Nicholas in Fredericton wants to know what he should if both of his parents catch COVID-19. 0:09

Health Canada advises anyone with COVID-19 symptoms to self-isolate. 

So what should you do if both of your parents get sick and need to self-isolate? Toronto-area pediatrician Dr. Dina Kulik recommends giving them space, so you don’t get the virus too.

“It depends on your age,” says Kulik, pediatric emergency medicine physician and founder of Kidcrew Medical, a pediatric clinic in Toronto. “If you are old enough to take care of yourself, cook your own meals, and don’t need your parents to care for you day-to-day, I would suggest isolating from them.”

However, every family should have a plan, and if the parents and child feel as though the child would be better off living with a friend or relative, then that’s an option too. But Kulik cautions that it’s possible the child could be asymptomatic, meaning a person has the virus but is not showing any symptoms, and that could put the other caregivers at risk.

If you are sharing a space with someone who’s sick, Kulik also recommends wiping down all high-traffic surfaces such as counters, door handles, and even the refrigerator, with products approved for use against the coronavirus including:  alcohol, peroxide, or a bleach solution. She also advises using a different washroom if possible, which should help contain the spread. —

Canada’s top doctor, Theresa Tam, told CBC Kids News, “It’s normal to feel frightened,” but make your parents know you’re worried, and remember you’re not alone. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s family had to deal with the coronavirus, when his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, tested positive. She has since recovered. 

“It would be scary to have two sick parents, but it is not your job as a child to take care of them or make adult decisions for them,” says Alyson Schafer, family counsellor and parenting expert. “You only need to let other adults and professionals do their job of taking care of them and trust that everyone is helping people sick with COVID-19.”

This is a frightening disease, but most people recover, Schafer says. “Your mind may want to worry about future events that might happen, but we don’t know what the future will bring, so try to focus your mind on what the reality is at the moment.”

If you need support during the COVID-19 pandemic, contact Kids Help Phone.

Is the pandemic under control? When will it end?

A lot of people are sending us questions about when this will all be over, including 11-year-old Alexander in Calgary who wants to know when he can go back to school and continue learning. 

Alex in Calgary wants to know if this pandemic is under control and when he will be able to go back to school. 0:25

There is a lot we don’t know about this pandemic, and it’s not clear when Canadian kids can go back to their normal lives.

Other countries are already easing up some restrictions; for example, schools in Norway will welcome back students this week, while some schools in Germany have already reopened, after closing down in March. 

In Canada, schools remain closed, because provinces and territories will need to continue practicing social distancing for a little longer, experts say, in order to reduce the rate at which the virus is spreading.  

“COVID-19 started in December, and it is only April. It is a novel coronavirus, meaning it is new and therefore we don’t have long-term data on it,” says Kulik. 

Kulik said it usually takes about three months before the positive results of physical distancing become apparent.

“Most of Canada started this process in mid-March. So, if we continue to be cautious and minimize exposure to others, we are looking at lessening restrictions this summer,” she says, cautioning that Canada is still “months from going back to normal.”

New Brunswick and Saskatchewan are already planning to reopen parks and beaches, but both provinces say schools will likely remain closed until the end of summer.

“The more restrictive we are now, the sooner we can go back to normal. Jumping back to normalcy may lead to further months in lockdown,” Kulik says. 

Will it be safe to go swimming in the lakes this summer? 

This question comes from David, 10, who emailed CBC Kids News, because he wants to know if it will be safe to swim in lakes this summer.  

In theory, it should be safe to swim in lakes, but only if physical distancing restrictions are relaxed. Why? Because the virus is transmitted person-to-person, health authorities have closed beaches, boat launches and most marinas to reduce the rate of new COVID-19 cases by preventing crowds from gathering in recreation areas.

But, New Brunswick recently reopened its outdoor spaces, such as parks and beaches. And officials will allow gatherings of up to 10 people within two to four weeks, as long as they maintain a physical distance of at least two metres, and provided there is no significant new wave of infections. 

Saskatchewan also announced it is planning to reopen municipal parks and swimming pools, but the date is yet to be determined.

According to Canada’s Public Health Agency, provincial and territorial governments may issue more specific guidance about this in the coming weeks. 

As for pools? We’ve already tackled that question. You can read about it here.  

Can cats and dogs get sick from the coronavirus?

Rachel, 11 wrote into CBC Kids News with a question that’s also popular in our COVID@cbc.ca inbox.

While we know animals can become infected — even a tiger in a New York City zoo tested positive for the virus — Dr. Rebecca Archer, a clinical instructor of small animal medicine with the faculty of veterinary medicine at the University of Calgary, has said there is no evidence so far that we can catch the coronavirus from our pets. 

Here’s what Dr. Scott Weese, a veterinarian from the University of Guelph has to say about the coronavirus and our furry friends:

Dr. Scott Weese, a veterinarian from the University of Guelph, explains whether cats and dogs can get sick from the coronavirus. 2:10

Where does Coronavirus come from, and how does it spread? 

Six-year-old Liane wrote into CBC Kids News with a question about where the virus comes from, and how it spreads. 

There’s a lot we don’t know about the coronavirus, but scientists believe it jumped from an animal to a person. But there is no evidence to suggest that animals, including pets, are playing a role in the spread of COVID-19.

You can read more about where the virus originated here.

Respiratory viruses like the coronavirus are typically transmitted by touching your face or breathing in droplets that an infected person has just breathed out.

Here’s how you can stop the spread of COVID-19.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

  • Practice physical distancing.

  • Stay home if you are sick.

You can get more information for kids about COVID-19 and how to prevent it here. 

We’re also answering your questions every night on The National. Last night, your questions included: Should I wear a mask if I’m healthy? Watch below:

An emergency room doctor answers your questions about the COVID-19 pandemic, including the latest advice on whether healthy people should wear masks. 2:37

Friday we answered questions about herd immunity and ironing masks. Read here.

Keep your questions coming by emailing us at COVID@cbc.ca.

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