The Safety and wellbeing of Children during the Coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak

I’ve seen so many social media posts from mothers, perhaps fathers have also posted but I haven’t personally come across any. Some of these mothers are working and some not. I’m referring to the complaints by these mothers regarding the closure of schools due to the Coronavirus outbreak. They’re complaining about now having to spend the next month or so with their kids. Surely this should not be a burden! Yes, of course, if you are working and have no one else to look after your child, I do understand that.

But what I don’t get are the complaints of mothers who are in a position to spend this time with their child or children. At a time like this when spending time with them to limit social distancing is for everyone’s well being so as to not risk the possibility of being infected with the Coronavirus, why would a parent complain? I just don’t get it, if I am missing something here, please comment below. Have we forgotten that parenting is actually our responsibility and whilst they may not be able to go to school, we can take responsibility of their learning during this uncertain period?

In the same breath, I can’t help but feel worried for these children who are seen as a “burden” to their parents. Imagine what they will go through over the next month or so. If the social media complaints started before schools even closed, I can’t help but imagine that some of these children will be ridiculed by the anger and frustration of their parents whilst being at home – when in such cases, school was probably a safer place to be at for most of the day.  

There’s a list of fears that I can list, just the thought of what could possibly happen to children now that they do not have a safe place to be – even without the Coronavirus, we have read about horrible things happening to children in our mentally sick society.  

But I don’t want to go there – the intention of my post is not to create more fear. What I do want to say is that during this time, sexual predators and abusers etc. will take advantage of the situation. We must be mindful about where we keep our children, if they are not with us. If they are with us, this is a lifestyle change – something neither they nor us have prepared for but we need to make plans. How will they spend the day? Being away from school is not an opportunity to go to the movies etc. This is when we have to practice social distancing, whether we like to or not.

Borderline paranoia or being a realist?

Of course, I am in fear myself, I sometimes wonder if I am on the borderline of paranoia but I rather be safe than sorry. I rather read more to be more aware, whilst others may do the opposite, because the less they know, the better they feel. Everyone has a right to choose how they want to approach this situation. It’s something none of us have been through. The manner that we choose to react in, may not be right to some and wrong to others. We have to think holistically.

To me this means, yes, we must be positive but being positive means being realistic. Don’t have that mindset that “it won’t happen to me”.  Yes, we can hope that, but we also have to take the necessary precautions to reduce this risk of becoming infected with the virus.

I’m in the Tourism/Hospitality industry and right now, I don’t know what the next few days hold – I could not have a job within the next few weeks – I don’t know but I have to think it’s a huge possibility given the current situation. Am I prepared for it? Of course not, but I’ll have to live with it.

I’ve tried as best as possible to share content from reliable sources, if I wasn’t sure that it was factual, I verified, e.g. I received a memorandum from a school via Whatsapp – before forwarding, I called the school to verify if it indeed was official communication from them and when confirmed, then only I forwarded.

Over the past few days, I wondered if I was sharing too much of information and I suspected that some people may have not been happy with me forwarding certain content – whilst I was believing that I was creating awareness, I do understand that some may have preferred to see jokes or chats about something else other than another Coronavirus post. I get that, well, even if it was later than I should have. I check the stats a few times a day, I want to know, I want to be aware, call me paranoid if you must. I’ve always believed that knowledge is strength.

Panic-buying

If I personally stockpiled like those that I have seen on social media, then I guess I would call myself paranoid. But it’s human nature to want to be prepared and even though this behaviour may come across as irrational to many, to some, they find they are being rational, by being prepared. Just in case there is a lock-down, they want to be able to provide for their families. So on that note, I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.

I do think there should be limits though – just as you want to provide for your family, others want to do the same, whilst some just want to do their normal daily and weekly shopping. The circumstances have unleashed panic in many – to the extent that people are copying behaviours – like emptying out shelves of the toilet paper – this has quite confused many – perhaps it is herd behaviour for many, which I personally think it is.

We’ve seen and heard that the hand sanitisers are mostly out of stock but items like household cleaning items are not – so this makes one wonder, if there is going to be a lockdown and you’re expected to be at home for a long period of time, are you not going to clean your house?

That in itself, to me, highlights the fact that it is indeed panic buying – just going out and filling your trolley without even thinking this through.

Then of course, there’s masses who are in panic mode but just can’t afford to panic-buy. We have to be considerate and be mindful of others who need the stuff we selfishly stockpile. But if we don’t – it then becomes survival of the richest then, doesn’t it?

In order to prevent yourself from getting the Coronavirus, remember, it’s important for others to sanitise as well – so let that stick and be some motivation to leave some behind for others as and when we do get more stock available.

Are policies in the workplace & your expectations preceded by common sense?

At a time like this, it becomes evident on what employers’ value more. If there is a possibility for you to work from home, have you been given the option to do so or not? Looking at all the trends from countries that have been hit before us, surely, we could learn from this and see social distancing as imperative to reduce the spread.

Understandably there are those jobs that don’t have such flexibility and yes, in those cases, unfortunately so, they have to be available.  But let’s reinforce the safety precautions and let’s educate each of these employees on the protocols to practice as guided by The World Health Organisation.

If you have the opportunity to work from home, do not take it for granted, because there are many people who don’t have that right – I won’t even call it a privilege in this instance as I see it as a necessity – a health and safety requirement, not just for yourself, but for everyone around you.

We are in this together and for social distancing to work, we have to do so collaboratively.  

This also means that we have to take into consideration the impact that this has and will have on Employers. If no money is coming in, how can we expect to get paid if we are not working? As much as there is reason enough to practice social distancing, we cannot ignore the fact that there are individuals who will look for any excuse not to be at work but still get paid for it!

It’s easy to blame and expect things from employers and even from government but sometimes we have to apply some common sense too and think about this whole situation realistically.

What can you do?

Employers

  • Put a policy/procedure into place
  • Provide training to employees – there is a wealth of information freely available from reliable sources like: WHO, NICD and stats from Worldometers Info.
  • Prioritise roles and projects – if individuals in open plan spaces work very close to each other, consider re-arranging the furniture or consider which positions can work from home
  • Create a safe working environment: provide hand sanitisers, toilet sanitisers, gloves, masks, etc. as needed depending on the type of company/establishment
  • Increase the frequency of cleaning common areas and disinfecting surfaces
  • Make disinfectants available at the bio-metrics machines if they’re still being used

As individuals

  • Self-isolate if you feel sick and if you suspect you have symptoms of the Coronavirus, seek medical help and get tested – remember, not everyone will get tested – there’s a combination of factors to take into consideration to warrant for a test to be conducted.
  • Practice social distancing – avoid crowds, even at workplaces – keep your safe distance as it’s not always evident if someone has the virus as they do not display symptoms
  • Follow the guidelines from official websites/organisations like WHO and NICD
  • Balance – keep a mindful balance on the amount of reading you do about this topic (or watching television or discussions around it) – do not become overly obsessed. Remember that for those who have kids, they are watching your behaviour without you knowing. Also for your mental state of mind, if you worry too much, that in itself can affect your immune system
  • Boost your immune system – make lifestyle changes to have a daily intake of immune boosters which can be in the form of vitamins or foods that boost the immune system
  • Remember that your mobile phone is left on various surfaces, so ensure you sanitise your mobile device as well
  • Build and fix relationships – allow this virus to make us appreciate life and people more
  • Be cautious about what you share – is it factual and if you are not sure, then don’t share it.
  • Whether you’re going to be at home or at work, take the necessary precautions to protect yourself, in the interest of all around you.
  • Educate your children, your teams and those around you on the do’s and don’ts. Do not take it for granted that everyone knows.
  • Don’t resort to playing the blame game – it’s human nature to sometimes take solace in putting the blame on someone else – there are of course many conspiracy theories and everyone has the right to think and feel in a certain way but try to do this responsibly.
  • Use your time wisely – read that book you’ve been wanting to. Bake that cake you’ve always wanted to. Paint. Soak up in a bath. Spend quality time with loved ones

Maybe…just maybe…the Cornonavirus is leading us to see what life will be like with fewer resources but more qualitative time and output? Like the benefits of Remote workspaces or maybe we are just given time to relax…to reflect…to re-purpose and revisit our priorities in life?

We’ve seen the figures in other country double, triple and so forth – we can potentially anticipate the magnitude that will be affected and no matter how much trends can show us, this is one of those things in life, than even if you expect, can never be fully prepared for.

Take a step back, take a few breaths and do what’s right for yourself and your family. You may not always have the luxury of choice to do what is preferred, but from the options that are available, choose the best one.  You can’t make rational decisions if you are panicking, so find ways to calm yourself during this stressful and uncertain time.

Right now, it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, neither does the colour of your skin or country origin – what’s happening affects us all as human beings. Different people react differently to situations – some can handle stress and panic situations and others can’t. So, let’s help each other. Let’s learn from each other. Let’s fight this together.

Let’s use social media and the internet to create harmony during this difficult time. It starts with each of us. If you’re fortunate enough to have access to the internet, then use it productively.

If I said I was positive all the time, I’d be lying, of course, I am human and I get upset about things but I am aware of it and the effect it has on myself and others. More importantly, I have a toddler watching my behaviour and for his sake, I have to constantly remind myself to be mindful of my reaction to situations.

We value our lives and of course we will feel fear. Let’s not give into that fear. We often complain when we don’t have time, now that we have that time, what are we going to do with it as we practice social distancing?

Leave your comments below…let me know how you are doing during this time.

Stay safe, be mindful and protect yourselves and those around you.


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