Playdates are not OK, doctors warn

BEING RESPONSIBLE: Kidz Play Park at Windsor in Circular Drive announced on its Facebook page on Sunday that they had decided to close shop amid the coronavirus outbreak
BEING RESPONSIBLE: Kidz Play Park at Windsor in Circular Drive announced on its Facebook page on Sunday that they had decided to close shop amid the coronavirus outbreak
Image: Facebook

Paediatricians have called on parents to stop all playdates in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, with  local doctors warning that children, especially, can be asymptomatic carriers.

Dr Greg Boden, of Gebers & Partners, appealed to moms and dads in the Eastern Cape, especially Port Elizabeth, to remember that social distancing was key to curbing the Covid-19 pandemic.

His partner, Dr Dave Purchase, agreed.

Their call comes as kiddies’ venues across the city made similar decisions during the course of the weekend to close shop for fear of escalating the spread of the virus.

Kidz Play Park at Windsor said earlier on Sunday that they had made the difficult decision to temporarily close the Circular Drive play park.

Similarly, the popular Coffee and Kids Company in Fairview announced on its Facebook page that in light of the outbreak and with public places not being an option for parents at this stage, they had resolved to close the shop until further notice.

“Playdates are not OK,” Boden said.

“The only way we can protect the elderly and people with underlying illnesses is by social isolation.

“Even though there are no reported positive coronavirus cases [in Nelson Mandela Bay], the feeling is we are already surrounded by it.”

According to Boden, children were often asymptomatic (did not display signs of being ill) but would then pass it on to adults.

The older population — or those with underlying medical conditions — are most at risk.

“I believe this is one of the reasons the Italians were so badly affected.

“Please keep isolated and spread the word.”

Some parents said they had also been forced to make the difficult decision to cancel their children’s upcoming birthday parties for the same reason.

Benjamin Claassen of Walmer said he had taken the decision to postpone his daughter Amelia’s first birthday party because as a family they had decided to limit all social engagements.

“It’s sad but it had to be done. This is the time for us all to be very cautious.”

He hoped that they could still celebrate her milestone later in the year.

“A week after we took the decision to cancel the party which was due to be held next weekend, I noticed that many other parents had done the same,” Claassen said.

Blogger and mom Eleanor Douglas-Meyers said while the decision to cancel her son’s birthday party had been a great disappointment to him, she knew it was something that had to be done.

Aidan had hoped to celebrate his seventh birthday with friends on April 5.

“I know corona is all we are allowed to talk about right now, but it’s fair to say that the virus has affected many aspects of life and people have different lives, so will react differently,” Douglas-Meyers said.

Purchase said it was not yet known why, but the innate immunity was best in children under the age of 10.

“It is as if their young bodies expect to fight off bugs,” he explained.

Any child with an immunosuppression was most at risk, however. This included children with untreated HIV, those actively undergoing chemotherapy, diabetes and any major underlying lung, heart or renal diseases.

“Isolate them at home. Keep them physically active at home, eat healthily and focus on mental wellbeing.”

He said children were asymptomatic vectors who transferred the virus to the elderly, who were then put at risk.

“Video call the grandparents, please. This prevents emotional isolation and viral transmission.

“All adults under 60 still working are at risk of picking up and transmitting Covid-19 at home.

“However, the risk of serious disease in them is minimal. The risk is highest for over 60s.

“We have to minimise the transmission to the elderly as it kills them.”