A Cork respiratory paediatrician has warned that school closures will only be effective at slowing down the spread of Covid-19 if children are not mixing with each other.
“They will give it to each other silently and pass it on to our loved ones,” Dr Muireann Ní Chrónín warned. “What we do now will contribute to how this develops in Cork.”
Situations must be avoided where children will interact at all costs, she stressed.
“If the community respond to this, it will shut it (coronavirus) down more than anything else we do in hospital.
“From my experiences in the hospital this last week I would say that coronavirus is closer to all of us than we realise and the degrees of separation for all of us is getting narrower."
The consultant also said that the children will get through this critical period “no problem”.
Paediatric hospitals in Italy were empty at present, she said, after three weeks of school closure as the usual viruses stopped circulating.
“Remember, with coronavirus children are vectors, not victims. In most epidemics, young children are the transmitters.”
Please see below a very powerful message from a Consultant Respiratory Paediatrician at Cork University Hospital. This message reflects the urgency for national action - we need to look after and protect each other @roinnslainte @SimonHarrisTD @Education_Ire pic.twitter.com/valsnflnKj— Joe McHugh (@McHughJoeTD) March 13, 2020
It comes as the HSE's Psychological Services issued practical advice for parents and guardians when talking to children and teenagers about the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, healthcare professionals who provide critical care in Ireland are expecting “significant challenges” in the coming weeks because of the demand for their services.
“We aim to provide care of an appropriate nature to our patients as always, but we do expect that we will have to make triage decisions, which will be challenging,” they said.
“At all times, we will communicate with the patient and their families.
“Intensive care will need to be directed to those patients who are most likely to benefit, and in this instance, to save the most lives.”
She added that the people of Italy and China had taught us many lessons and we in Ireland needed to learn from their experience.
The statement is signed by Dr Catherine Motherway, president of the Intensive Care Society of Ireland, Dr John Bates, dean of Joint Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine of Ireland and Ms Serena O'Brien, chairperson of the Irish Association of Critical Care Nursing.
The message in full from Dr Muireann Ní Chrónín, consultant respiratory paediatrician at Cork University Hospital