17 May 2020

Researchers to study Covid-19's impact on children

4:14 pm on 17 May 2020

Researchers and paediatricians are launching a study to determine what information parents need to understand and feel reassured about Covid-19 and its potential impact on children.

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Photo: 123RF

The study comes as the country moves to alert level 2 and parents prepare to send their children back to school tomorrow.

A researcher and paediatric infectious diseases expert from University of Otago, Christchurch, Tony Walls, said in a statement that they are hoping to get several thousand parents from around New Zealand to take part in an online survey.

Parents with children aged from preschool to high school are being asked to participate in the survey.

Associate Professor Walls said sending children back to school is as "safe as it's ever been" because of a lack of other viruses currently circulating, such as influenza.

Data from Covid-19 hot spots confirm the lower risk of children as carriers and patients, he said.

"We are aware that many parents are concerned about sending their children back to school. From our perspective we think it is as safe as it has ever been, but it is important to listen to parents and understand their views."

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP

Walls said the science and information on Covid-19 is changing rapidly which can make it difficult to follow.

"Now is the perfect time to understand if the messaging from schools and government agencies is getting through clearly to parents."

He said that understanding parents' perspective would enable government and health agencies to provide them with appropriate information.

"The aim of this study is to examine what parents and caregivers know, and want to know, about the potential risks associated with children returning to school in the Covid-19 era. This is important information as it will help us to provide recommendations regarding the advice given to parents, as well as helping to inform similar situations in the future,'' he said.

Associate Professor Wall and his colleagues will analyse the survey's answers and will produce results to feed back to the government within two weeks.

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