How to travel safely with children and COVID-19
Advice from Dr Yiannis Ioannou,
Consultant Paediatrician, at the Women’s Wellness Centre
After these long months of video calls, many of us are reconnecting with our friends and loved ones. As restrictions are easing, travel to see our relatives and friends is possible again.
Travel with children is exciting and fun, but raises many questions for new parents. Even during ‘normal’ summers there may be a few challenges. But now parents are having to prepare with ever changing guidance on travel restrictions due to COVID-19.
Holidays and travelling with children should be fun and not stressful!
So it seems a good time to have a recap of information and advice relating to children and COVID-19 to hopefully reassure you before you travel, as well as to plan what you take with you when you travel with children.
The good news is that all the information remains reassuring relating to COVID -19 illness in children. It is important to follow latest guidance and advice for all age groups, but here is a summary of information, that I hope you find useful.
Does COVID-19 affect children?
Reassuringly, the statistics today still show that children are at minimal risk of being infected with COVID-19. Children make up approximately 2% of all reported cases and those who do develop COVID-19 have milder symptoms than adults with severe illness being very rare in children.
Can children transmit COVID-19 to others?
The ability of children to transmit the virus is difficult to ascertain, but studies suggest that transmission from children may be low. This is great news but we should still keep an eye out for any symptoms that your child might be showing to keep everyone safe.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19 in children?
Most children have no symptoms or very mild symptoms. However, the common COVID-19 symptoms are:
- Cough and fever are the most common symptoms.
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Aching muscles
- Headache and dizziness have also been reported.
Differentiating COVID-19 from other childhood infections and illnesses is very important. Always seek advice from your paediatrician if you’re worried about your child’s health.
What extra safety precautions are being taken in clinics?
Many parents have enquired about whether it is safe to bring children to clinics and hospitals. Precautions have been introduced for you and your child’s safety. The specific precautions are set by each hospital and may vary, but include the following:
- A longer time between appointments to reduce congestion in waiting areas.
- Families have their hands sanitised and are given a face mask to wear ( or bring your own!). The style and variety of masks is very impressive!
- Screening of all parents and children attending the clinic with questions regarding recent symptoms of the virus, including a temperature check before entering the clinic.
- Nursing and administrative staff are wearing face masks
It’s understandable that with the world beginning to open up again after lockdown, you may be thinking about travelling with children or taking trips abroad.
It’s best to be prepared with little ones in case of unexpected illness, so here is Dr Yiannis Ioannou Paediatrician’s Practical guide to what to take with you when you go. The list is not exhaustive and if I have missed anything obvious let me know!
Travel with children: What medicines should I take with me?
Medicine for pain and fever, such as Paracetamol and Ibuprofen for children. The dosing instructions may vary in different countries so always check the label if you buy medicine abroad and seek medical advice if you need to.
An antihistamine such as Piriton for allergic reactions and itching.
An ointment or cream for stings and bites.
An adequate supply of prescribed medications for any pre-existing medical conditions to last for the duration of your time away. These should be arranged before you travel. For example, inhalers for asthma or wheezing.
Oral rehydration solution sachets such as Dioralyte in case of a diarrhoeal illness.
Consider getting your child a medical alert bracelet if they have a chronic medical problem, especially if they have food allergies, diabetes, or seizures, etc.
Do I need to take a prescription or note from my Paediatrician?
You can carry non-prescription liquid medications on an aeroplane, but you will have to declare that you have them to the airport security screeners. Travel rules do change regularly so do check with the airline before you travel.
You don’t need to take a prescription or doctor’s note to take medicines abroad but it can be a good idea in case you lose any medications or your trip is extended for any reason. But, otherwise, your medications just need to be clearly labelled to go through airport security.
Dr Yiannis’ top travel tip:
“Feeding infants during take-off and landing may ease ear discomfort, but more often than not, little ones are good travellers so hopefully you will all enjoy the journey.”
What other essentials should I pack when I travel with my children?
Besides medicines, there are a few other essential items to consider when you’re planning a trip with children. Depending on where you’re going and how long for, you may also want to pack:
A high sun protection factor sun cream suitable for children if you’re heading to a sunny destination, although sun avoidance is the better option for skin protection.
A sun shade for your buggy or pram.
A simple pre-packed first aid kit, available from most chemists.
Spare dummies or pacifiers.
Sterilising travel kits for bottles and dummies.
Nappy rash cream
Should I see my paediatrician before I travel?
As said, If you have any concerns about travelling with your child, or you’re unsure whether your child is well enough and able to travel, you can arrange an appointment with your paediatrician.
Don’t forget to check with your paediatrician whether additional vaccinations need to be arranged before you travel.
Wishing you all the best for a lovely holiday and reunion with your loved ones!
This article has been written by Dr Yiannis Ioannou, Paediatrician at The Women’s Wellness Centre.
Dr Yiannis also offers well-baby checks, immunisations, health assessments and health advice for children of all ages. If you wish to know more about how our Paediatricians can be helpful to you, please contact us on 020 7751 4488 or at [email protected]
Consultant Paediatrician MA MBBS MSc FHEA FRCPCH
Dr Ioannou is a general paediatrician, looking after the health of children from newborn babies to teenagers. He is happy to consult and advise on any concern regarding children’s health. As well as working with The Women’s Wellness Centre, Yiannis is a Consultant Paediatrician at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and an Honorary Senior Lecturer at Imperial College London Medical School.