Hand-washing, pets and toilet paper: Manitoba kids get answers to their COVID-19 questions

By | April 2, 2020

“Can my dog get COVID-19?”

“When will I be able to play with my friends again?”

“Why are people buying so much toilet paper?”

Those were just a few of the questions about COVID-19 Manitoba kids put to Lanette Siragusa, the province’s chief nursing officer, and Dr. William Li, a pediatrician at the Manitoba Clinic, during a live-streamed Q&A session hosted by radio personality Ace Burpee on Thursday morning.

“This isn’t normal and it’s not gonna last forever,” Siragusa told the young audience. “But there’s things we can do now to protect ourselves and get through these days.”

Here are a few of the questions that a dozen Manitoba kids, from kindergarten to Grade 12, got answered.

WATCH | Young Manitobans get answers to their COVID-19 questions:

What would COVID-19 look like if a kid had it?

The most common symptoms would be a high temperature, slight cough and overall tired feeling, Li told the Grade 3 student who submitted this question.

Some kids might also have digestive problems, like stomach pains or diarrhea, he said.

What surfaces can the new coronavirus live on, and for how long?

The virus can live on different surfaces for different amounts of time, Siragusa said. On cardboard, for example, it can survive for around 24 hours.

That’s why it’s so important to wash your hands and disinfect commonly used surfaces like kitchen counters, fridge doors and cellphones, she told the Grade 6 student who submitted the question.

What can kids do to help during COVID-19?

Andrew Harris, running back for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, appeared on-screen with a short video to help answer this question.

Harris told the Grade 5 student who sent in the question that it’s important for kids and adults to listen to the experts, wash their hands and practise physical distancing.

Winnipeg Jets right winger Patrik Laine echoed this advice later on in the live stream.

“We need you to be the hero Manitobans need,” he said.

Siragusa said kids can talk to their parents to see how they can help in their own communities.

Can our dogs get COVID-19?

The short answer, Li said, is no.

Scientists don’t believe family pets, like cats and dogs, can get COVID-19 or transfer it to people, said Dr. Li. (Manitoba Government/YouTube)

“As of right now, the scientists don’t think that our domestic pets — so cats, dogs — can get COVID-19, nor can they transfer it to us,” he told the Grade 5 student who submitted the question.

When do you think I might be able to play with my friends again?

“We don’t know exactly when this is gonna end,” Siragusa told the Grade 1 student who sent in the question. 

“I’m crossing my fingers and hoping it’s gonna be soon.”

In the meantime, she said, kids can start getting creative about how to stay connected with their friends without physically being together — for example, by asking their parents if they can set up a phone playdate or a video dance party.

Why are people buying so much toilet paper?

“My only thought would be that maybe when people feel scared, that it makes them feel better to go out and get a whole bunch of things, trying to prepare for these uncertain times,” Siragusa told the Grade 4 student who asked this question.

She said people should stock up on enough necessities to carry them through a few weeks, in case they or someone they live with gets sick and has to stay home.

“But you don’t have to go too crazy, because we’re still going to have shipments of things coming in.”


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My dad works in a hospital. What happens if he gets COVID-19?

Li said if you live with someone who works in health care who gets COVID-19, it’s important to try to stay two metres away from them and not share things that could spread germs. 

“I know that sounds really hard,” he said. “But it really is important to try to protect yourself too and to try to prevent the spread of it.”

Will high school graduation ceremonies be cancelled outright?

Siragusa encouraged the Grade 12 student who submitted this question to stay in touch with her teachers to let them know students still want a celebration, even though it can’t happen right now.

“Certainly, that doesn’t mean that the celebration shouldn’t happen. It just means that we might have to look at a different time to do it,” she said.


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