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Infectious Diseases

02 May 2020

Why your kids' playground is unsafe during Covid-19 pandemic

Even if kids are practicing physical distancing on the playground, they're still touching the same surfaces as all the other kids.

It's a tough task, but parents need to keep kids away from playgrounds, shared toys and sports equipment during the coronavirus pandemic, experts emphasise.

The coronavirus can stick around on surfaces for a long time, a recent New England Journal of Medicine study found.

It takes 72 hours for the virus to become undetectable on plastic, according to the study, about 48 hours on stainless steel and cardboard, and eight hours on copper.

Even if kids are practicing physical distancing on the playground, they're still touching the same surfaces as all the other kids, noted Samiksha Raut, an associate professor of biology at University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Illness apt to be mild

"Kids are constantly moving from one part of the playground to another and are quite prone to touching their faces – nose, eyes etc., at intervals," she said in a university news release. "Therefore, if they happen to touch an object with the novel coronavirus, the chances of getting infected are very high."

Though their illness is apt to be mild, kids can still be active carriers of Covid-19 before any symptoms emerge. "Above all, given their ages, they do not understand the importance of physical distancing and, hence, should be actively supervised by parents and/or caretakers," Raut said.

She advised parents and other caregivers to follow US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.

Make sure kids wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based sanitiser.

Keep kids away from any family member who is sick with the virus and quarantined.

Periodically clean and disinfect high-touch surface areas like table tops, chairs, remote controls, doorknobs, toilets and light switches.

Launder plush toys and stuffed animals in the washing machine. Wash kids' clothes separately from those of family members who are in quarantine.

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Image credit: Myles Tan, Unsplash