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Health experts warns against child face masks

As Ugandans look forward to the lifting of the coronavirus lockdown next week on May 18, health experts have advised against making children below three years from wearing face masks. 
Dr Rebecca Nantanda, a paediatrician based at the Makerere University's Lung Institute has advised that the best protection against coronavirus disease for children younger than three years is staying at home and not wearing face masks. 

This week, government issued a directive to have everybody wear face masks when out in the public domain, warning that those who flout the directive will be forcefully quarantined for 14 days. Yesterday and today, police blocked all motorists and passengers without masks from entering the city centre. Nantanda who is also a senior researcher on respiratory diseases says children’s airways are small and don’t process carbon dioxide as well as adults which makes breathing behind a mask dangerous.

Even for older children who may not suffocate with a mask on, she says they are likely to keep touching it and sometimes infect themselves in the process because they are not used to shielding their faces. She also notes that it’s challenging to find a fitting mask for children.  

While the advice of staying at home, and letting children stay maskless for instance while in the car works for the middle class and parents who can afford this, Nantanda says the paediatricians fraternity should be brainstorming on what happens to babies who have to move with their parents to markets and other crowded workplaces.   

Minister of Health Dr Jane Ruth Aceng signed a statutory instrument providing for mandatory wearing of the mask, she made no mention about children even as children world over have been contracting the viral respiratory disease.

In Uganda, the youngest individual to test positive for the virus was an eight-month-old baby from Iganga who has since recovered and discharged from the hospital.

Many other children are at risk of getting infected as the virus continues to transmit even though global research shows that they are at lower risk of getting serious implications from the virus than their ageing counterparts  

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