Singapore has announced a slew of strict measures as the B.1.617 strain continues to wreak havoc, especially affecting children more than adults. From home-based learning till May 28, to harder social distancing rules, and activation of work from home, the island state is ensuring all citizens and especially children are kept safe.
As Chan Chun Sing, Education Minister also explained, “Some of these [virus] mutations are much more virulent, and they seem to attack the younger children.”
This is precisely why it is more important now than ever for parents to know everything about this strain.
New Strain Of Covid: Where Did It Come From?
According to WHO, the predominant lineage of B.1.617 was first identified in India in December, although an earlier version was spotted in October 2020.
Evidence is growing that B.1.617 strain might be slightly better at evading immunity than existing variants. In fact, the new strain is more deadly and has spread to over 40 nations so far.
This is especially concerning to parents in Singapore as it has been affecting children at a much higher rate now.
How the new variants are formed
While there’s need for more research, some experts believe that the changes in the virus’s spike protein allow it to easily enter the human body by attaching itself more ‘strongly’ to the ACE2 receptors.
Another recent study authored by 39 scientists from 14 countries is demanding universal recognition that infections can be prevented by improving indoor ventilation systems.
The study states that the virus multiplies in the respiratory tract, and emits through an infected person’s nose and throat.
This leads to the visible spatters of spittle settling on the ground or nearby surfaces. Tiny aerosols with the virus are blown further and can stay on for longer, based on the airflow, temperature, and humidity levels.
With indoor ventilation, the chances of the virus staying alive and infecting people are higher. As more people spend time indoors, a break-in could affect the young and old in the house.
This scenario could also lay bare the main symptoms of this new variant that has been attacking younger children in Singapore.
B.1.617 Symptoms: How Kids Are Affected By It
The symptoms associated with this latest variant are largely the same as regular Covid infections. So you may spot the following in anybody who has contracted this new variant of Covid.
A new, persistent cough
Loss of taste or smell
High temperature of above 38ºC
In addition, some may even notice the following symptoms as well:
Extreme dryness of the mouth
Irritation or itching of the tongue
Ulcers in the mouth
Experts suggest that anyone with the above symptoms in the mouth coupled with extreme weakness or fatigue should get a Covid test as soon as possible.
For now, officials recommend practicing caution including wearing a face mask in public areas. At home, make sure to sanitise every item brought from outside.
Safety Tips All Children And Family Members Must Follow
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Wash your hands: Teach your kids the importance of practising good hygiene habits. For instance, they should carry a sanitiser every time they step out of their homes. Also, once they are back, tell them to wash their hands properly with soap and water.
Wear your masks: Wearing masks should be of utmost importance. In order to entice your kids into wearing masks, you can buy attractive and colourful masks too.
Avoid crowds and socially distance: At a time when the authorities are trying hard to fight the pandemic, it is our responsibility to follow the guidelines. Teach your kids to maintain social distance and stay at home (till restrictions are lifted).
Strengthen your immunity: You should teach your kids about the importance of good immunity. Teach them the nutritional benefits of a good home-cooked nutritious meal.
Do Vaccines Work On the New Variant?
One of the main concerns of the coronavirus variants is if the mutations could affect treatment and prevention.
To address this concern, Soumya Swaminathan, WHO chief scientist recently shared, “What we know now is that the vaccines work, the diagnostics work, the same treatments that are used for the regular virus works, so there is really no need to change any of those.”
While the new strain of Covid is more deadly, health experts from all over the world have been urging people to get vaccinated.
“The vaccine is still working,” says Pragya Yadav, a virologist. “If you get vaccinated, you “will be protected, and the severity will be less.”
Vaccinating Kids In Singapore: What’s The Current Status?
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Keeping in mind the surge in infections, Singapore has approved the use of the Pfizer-COVID vaccine for those aged 12-15 years. The announcement comes at a time when a number of school children have tested positive for the virus.
Health Minister Health Minister Ong Ye Kung stated that both teams (expert committee and HSA) have assessed that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine demonstrated high efficacy and safety for this age group.
What You Must Remember
What needs to be remembered is that the new variant is now airborne, which means it can spread through the air. The health authorities like WHO and US CDC have also finally agreed to it.
According to experts, cleaner indoor air won’t just fight the pandemic, it will minimise the risk of catching flu and other respiratory infections. Therefore, you should allow good ventilation in your home.
As Education Minister Wong had earlier pointed out, “This is not a Chinese virus or an Indian variant. This is a global pandemic – the virus and its variants are out there everywhere in the world. There is no place for discrimination, racism or xenophobia here.”
While it’s true that as we almost at normalcy only to be hit by yet another wave of the virus, the only way we can fight against it is by following all the guidelines.