Ask Dr. Nandi: Kids and COVID-19 transmission, coronavirus and your mental health, false coronavirus tips

Posted at 5:05 PM, Mar 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-16 19:16:19-04

(WXYZ) — There is a new study in China that did find that some children still had the virus in their body after standard tests came back negative.

Now this study was small - out of 745 Chinese babies and children who had close contact with diagnosed coronavirus patients, just 10 ended up testing positive.

What the researchers did was to use the standard testing technique, which is swabbing the nose and throat, and on top of that, they also did feces testing. And surprisingly, stool samples showed that the virus was still present, even after standard nose and throat tests had come up negative.

In fact, one child’s stool test was still positive 13 days after they had been released from the hospital.

Now, does this mean that kids can pass the virus to others? Well we can’t 100% rule it out. But just because the virus is present in stool samples, does not mean transmission is possible - certainly we need more research.

I am hearing fear and uncertainty in some of my patients and also from our community as well. And that’s because our sense of normalcy has changed. We are in unprecedented times and this is definitely causing anxiety even amongst people with no mental health issues, let alone those who suffer from anxiety, PTSD and depression.

So here’s what I am recommending that folks do:

  • First of all, remember that you're not alone. Reach out to friends and family – a phone call or video chat can do wonders to lift your spirits and ease anxiety.
  • Next, you may need to consider limiting your news intake if it’s causing too much stress.
  • You can also lean on support groups. Many can be found online.
  • Also take part in activities that help you relax. I highly recommend meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga and listening to music. I also love dancing and going for walks as exercise can boost your serotonin levels which can then help regulate your emotions.
  • Lastly, try to think positively as much as possible. If you find you’re having a hard time coping, reach out to your family doctor.

Question: There’s been some false information passed around, supposedly by a member of the Stanford hospital board. What can you tell us about this?

I can tell you that it’s not from Stanford. Stanford University actually tweeted earlier saying that “Misinformation about COVID-19 symptoms and treatment falsely attributed to Stanford is circulating on social media and in email forwards.”

Now, this misinformation highlights some simple self-checks for the virus. Like taking a deep for 10 seconds. It says that if you’re able to hold your breath the virus is not present in your lungs. Other advice says to gargle with salt water, drink hot liquids, and sip water every 15 minutes.

Now, are these things likely going to harm you? No. But let me point out that some people won’t be able to take deep breaths and that’s not because they have the virus, but rather other health conditions like asthma or heart disease. So that’s why it’s important not to spread false information.

The best thing to do is to wash your hands often, clean and disinfect, practice social distancing and stay home as much as possible, especially if you’re sick.