'Stay calm': What should parents tell their children about COVID-19?

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As news of the "novel coronavirus" continues, what should parents tell their children? Dr. Sarah Doenberg is an Associate Professor and infectious disease specialist at UCSF Medical Center. She said it's all about reassuring your children not to panic and practice good hygiene.

"I would say as a good general rule for the general population is not to panic with the Coronavirus. I've really tried to send them the message that it's nothing to be panicked about, that's it's causing some people to get sick. And it's causing a lot of news currently," Doenberg said, who is a parent of two children.

Dr. Doenberg said good hand washing keeps viruses from spreading person-to-person. "Teaching your children to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with good scrubbing, with soap and water. They can use alcohol based hand gels as well if soap is unavailable," she said.

For parents-to-be, Dr. Doenberg said the same rules of good hand washing habits, and covering your cough or sneeze stands. "Keeping yourself healthy, well rested, washing your hands, and really trying to avoid panicking about this situation. I think there's a lot of information that some of which that's accurate and some of it not necessarily accurate," she said.

She recommended visiting the Centers for Disease Control's website where they have a 'frequently asked questions' that have specific information for populations like pregnant women and people who've traveled.

Dr. Doenberg also suggest parents can tell children the virus is similar to the flu. "People should have their flu shots by now, but if they haven't they can still get them, it's not too late," she said.

Her main advice, stay calm. "There is a huge amount of preparation going on out there, at the local public health level at the national public health level in healthcare facilities to try and keep communities safe," Dr. Doenberg said.

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