Parenting in a pandemic

“Our kids are just as scared as we are right now. They not only hear everything that is going on around them but they feel our constant tension and anxiety,” said Anjum Ijaz, a vice principal at a private school.

The idea of being off from school for four weeks may sound good, with students imagining something akin to summer vacations coming early but the reality is that they are trapped at home unable to see their friends. They have never experienced anything like this before, Ms Ijaz said.

And on the other hand, parents now have to console, entertain and discipline children all day while trying to work from home in a locked down city.

Dawn spoke to local residents confined at home with their children, practicing self-quarantine during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“They love the idea of being at home with both the parents,” said Sundas Warsi, a mother of two. Ms Warsi has developed a calendar of activities for every day that includes gardening, painting and story writing. But she said the children miss school and want to know when the situation will improve. Wondering what will come next, she expects that the children may feel hostile in the coming days.

Dr Nashmia Mahmood is trying to maintain discipline among her three children by keeping to their regular routine of sleeping, reading and eating – “That’s when I lose my patience, mostly,” she added.

Though she is more stretched than usual, her daughters are excited and full of energy, helping her with household chores.

Kiran Qazi, a programme manager at a United Nations agency, said she found working from home with a housebound child very challenging.

Her three-year-old is happily screeching, oblivious to all except that his mother is home. Ms Qazi, in turn, runs around the house, laptop computer in hand and wearing headphones, multi-tasking and taking conference calls.

“Despite all the challenges, it is a great opportunity to spend time with my son,” she added.

“This is the time to focus on healthy eating practices. A balanced diet not only builds strong immunity but also helps combat all kinds of illness,” said Dr Nosheen Abbas, the head of the nutrition department at PAF Hospital.

Dr Abbas said it is important to allow some escape from the stressful new reality of the pandemic, and with parks closed, she has planned family exercise and workouts by watching Youtube.

Paediatrician Prof Dr Tabish Hazir noted that while children’s physical ability to fight the coronavirus is much more robust than adults’, some parents were becoming hysterical because they do not know what to expect. He said it was vital to restrict inauthentic sources of information about the virus.

“Children are smart and can pick up on parents’ anxieties,” clinical psychologist Zehra Kamal said.

“Talk to them age appropriately about what is happening, but stay calm.”

She advised limiting children’s exposure to news about Covid-19 as well as its discussion. Ms Kamal added that allowing children space to share their fears, worries and concerns can help parents address them accordingly. This may mean validating and normalising those fears, “and yet, not pretending that nothing is wrong.”

Ms Kamal said children become confused and upset when routines are disturbed. They often express these feelings through disruptive behaviour, which only makes things more difficult as a parent as the children may not be on their best behaviour.

In addition, children with prior physical and mental health issues would require extra care and attention. Spending time and doing fun activities indoors together as a family can help everyone bond.

Over the coming weeks, parents will see an increase in behaviour issues with their children, Anjum Ijaz predicted.

“Whether it’s anxiety or anger or protest that they cannot do things normally, it will happen,” she said, adding there may be more meltdowns and tantrums, and they may not follow the ideal schedule parents make. This is normal and expected under the circumstances.

“Don’t worry about them regressing in school. Every single kid is in this boat and they will all be fine,” Ms Ijaz said. She added that children right now needed to feel comforted, which might mean that parents will have to tear up their perfect schedules and love their children a little more.

Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2020

More Than 61 Coronavirus Patients Recover in Pakistan, Deaths Reach 23

  • Pakistan coronavirus death toll has risen to 23
  • Confirmed cases in Pakistan have crossed 1,800
  • Recoveries are also on the rise with 61 recorded so far
  • Sindh education minister Saeed Ghani also announced recovery
  • PM Imran Khan says lockdowns don’t work for the poor
  • Prime Minister’s Coronavirus Relief Fund to open on Wednesday

While the country sees a swift surge in coronavirus cases and deaths, recoveries are also taking place with Pakistan’s total number of patients testing negative reaching 61 on Tuesday. As many as 23 zaireen in Sukkur and 17 patients in Balochistan, among others, were tested negative after isolation and treatment.

Sindh education minister Saeed Ghani, who had tested positive for the virus over a week ago but was asymptomatic, also announced that he was now free of the virus. Britain’s Prince Charles also got out of a self-isolation he entered a week ago after testing positive for coronavirus, the palace announced Monday.

But, the virus’s devastation continued in Pakistan and the world over. Covid-19 claimed many more lives on Monday taking the national toll to 23. New cases also kept flooding in which made the country’s confirmed cases surge past 1,800.  PM Imran Khan, in his address to the nation, sounded persistently against large-scale lockdowns saying they don’t work for the poor.

The global coronavirus terror continues to strengthen. A top US infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci told reporters on Sunday that it’s ‘entirely conceivable’ that more than 1 million people in the US could contract coronavirus. Monday marked a grim new milestone for the country where its death toll rose by a deadly 540-plus crossing 3,000.

President Trump on Monday said that keeping US Covid-19 deaths to 100,000 would be a ‘very good job’ as he extended social distancing rules to 30 April. In Europe too, the coronavirus dread showed no signs of abating with both Italy and Spain registering over 800 single-day deaths each on Monday too as the situation worsened in Germany, France, and the UK among other European nations.

More people will recover from coronavirus in coming days: Dr Mirza

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said on Monday that there are chances of more coronavirus patients recovering in the coming days, adding that Pakistan has reported fewer cases in the past 24 hours as compared to the ratio in the last few days.

Dr Mirza was addressing media, along with SAPM on National Security Dr Moeed Yusuf and National Disaster Management Authority Chairman Lt Gen Mohammad Afzal.

During the press briefing, Dr Mirza said that so far the coronavirus pandemic has claimed 21 lives, with five deaths reported within the last 24 hours.

“In the coming days, there will be an increase in the number of recovered people,” he said, adding that only 99 cases had been confirmed across the country since Sunday.

Dr Mirza said that currently, 7,507 people were placed under quarantine in different places across the country.

“In hospitals, out of 783 cases, 773 are improving and expected to get well soon,” said the SAPM. “Only 10 patients are in a critical condition,” he continued.

‘Govt trying to properly equip medical teams’

Addressing the press conference, the NDMA chairman said that the government’s priority is to provide medical teams with adequate supplies so that they can freely dispense their services to the ailing.

“The laboratories in Sargodha are being evaluated, then they will begin testing,” he apprised.

The NDMA chairman further said that the officials are aiming to increase testing capacity in Pakistan, adding that the flight from Beijing also brought 100 walk-through, thermal scanning machines.

He said that until April 6, around 100,000 protective kits will be in the country, along with 1,100 to 1,500 ventilators.

“The Sindh government has been given 20,000 testing kits, while Punjab received 5,000,” he said.

‘Domestic flights to remain suspended’

SAPM on National Security Dr Yusuf said that domestic flights have been suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak, and will remain so.

“All the passengers have returned from Thailand and they are all clear,” said the SAPM, referring to an earlier flight assigned to bring back stranded Pakistanis from the Bangkok airport.

Dismissing rumours about the airports resuming operations from April 5, he said that the matter of resumption of air operations is under consideration, however, nothing is conclusive as of now.

He further said that no Pakistani passengers are stranded at any airport across the world.

The press briefing of the officials came as Pakistan recorded more than 1,600 cases of the novel coronavirus.

Earlier today, Sindh Minister for Law and Environment Murtaza Wahab that 23 pilgrims quarantined at the coronavirus isolation facility in Sukkur had tested negative for the virus twice

Call to save people from mental sickness besides virus

Punjab University (PU) faculty members have called upon the government and other stakeholders to give hope to the people and avoid spreading “mental pandemic” while curbing coronavirus pandemic by creating fear among the masses because mental disease would be more dangerous than coronavirus.

They were speaking at a virtual conference on coronavirus organised by the Academic Staff Association of the university.

According to a press release, PU Pro-Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Saleem Mazhar said people must not fear coronavirus. However, he stressed, accurate information should be provided to the people so they could save themselves and others. He said people should also be guided how they could best use their time at home, otherwise, a healthy person became sick after staying at home for a week.

Prof Dr Hammad Lakhvi said there was a need to make efforts to find the cure for saving lives. “The world has witnessed epidemics and diseases far greater than COVID-19. Therefore, Muslims must keep their trust in Allah and it is enough to remove any negativity in their minds,” he said. Prof Dr Mumtaz Anwar proposed establishment of national taskforce incorporating experts from all the relevant fields so that a comprehensive strategy could be devised and implemented to combat COVID-19. Prof Dr Rubina Zakar said clear guidelines were available for home and hospital care of coronavirus patients. She said, “We should share these guidelines with the people for home treatment of patients because 70 per cent cases of COVID-19 could be treated at home.” Dr Rafia Rafique said the government must focus on mental health of the people while dealing with coronavirus, otherwise, mental disease would become more dangerous than COVID-19. She said more than 99 per cent population of the country was not victim of coronavirus, therefore, there was a need to create the ray of hope among the people. Dr Sohail Chand said that according to data pattern of COVID-19 in Pakistan, by the blessings of Allah, COVID-19 was not spreading at the pace that it should have spread otherwise. He said that people must be informed about such positive things.

Online course: Government College University (GCU) Lahore will work with Inter-University Consortium for Promotion of Social Sciences Pakistan (IUCPSS) to introduce two-week online certificate course on public health and civic education for the university students. Talking to IUCPSS National Coordinator Murtaza Noor, GCU Vice-Chancellor Dr Asghar Zaidi appreciated the initiative and assured his utmost cooperation in effective delivery of the certificate course.

Being a social policy expert on population ageing, the VC accepted to be part of the working group and showed his consent to deliver lectures on how responses to disaster risk could be seen from the lens of care of elderly people. In particular, the VC mentioned the topic of how elderly people carry a higher risk of mortality from an epidemic like coronavirus.

The main objective of the course is to create awareness about public health issues especially viral diseases, including Covid-19, among students and how they could play their effective role as responsible citizens through various ways.

Fact Check by world Health Organization: COVID-19 is NOT Airborne

The truth is; we weren’t prepared for the rampant coronavirus wreaking havoc worldwide. Not in our wildest dream did we all consider living in a lock down. Our only fight against the COVID-19 is to ensue preventative measures, which include washing your hands with a disinfectant soap, avoid touching your face, practice good hygiene, seeking immediate medical care. If you show any symptoms and most importantly maintain social distancing. However, there are various myths regarding the COVID-19 floating around. But doctors and health organizations are refuting those myths and providing concrete fact checks in order to keep us updated.

Recently it has come to light, COVID-19 causing virus isn’t airborne. If an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks and ensues driblets drops in the process, then the transmission of COVID-19 via this is none whatsoever. World Health Organization has issued a statement stating the fact that the virus riddled droplets produced by an infected person are too heavy to hang in the air. So, the myth about the virus being airborne for eight hours isn’t true. However, the droplets will quickly fall onto surfaces or floors therefore, cleanliness is the key.

Also, the infection can be transmitted if you are within one meter distance from an infected person. Which is why it is extremely important that you call for immediate medical assistance in cases like these and self quarantine until help arrives.

Stay safe!