Since Monday, all primary school pupils from Cycle 2 upwards are required to wear masks in class.
Having to wear a mask in class is a minor inconvenience compared to remote learning: Dr Allard, president of the Luxembourg Paediatric Society, and Dr De La Fuente, head of the Covid-19 department at the Luxembourg Paediatric Clinic, both agree on this point.
Children and adolescents must go to school to learn and to have social contacts. When children have to attend school at home, the way to the fridge is short, says Dr Serge Allard, who treats young patients who are overweight. There has also been a notable increase in the number of appointments in paediatric psychiatry.
Side effects on general health?
Wearing a mask for hours could in fact lead to the appearance of small side effects such as pimples, skin irritations, or sometimes headaches. However, the practice does not cause any serious health problems such as fungus or lung infections. Doctor Allard, a specialist in lung diseases in children, is adamant on this point. Studies have shown that even when playing sports, wearing the mask does not cause respiratory problems or infections of the respiratory tract, says Dr Isabel De La Fuente Garcia.
In this context, it is important to teach children how to wear a mask correctly.
The obligation to wear a mask at school is useful to prevent the spread of the virus in society, says the paediatrician. Schools should also air the premises regularly, and remind students and teaching staff to disinfect their hands as well as to respect physical distance.
Covid-19 is 'generally harmless' in children
The arrival of the UK variant means that the coronavirus is now also spreading faster among children. However, the course of the disease in young patients, something which Dr Allard and his colleagues have been observing, is not serious. Fever, cough, fatigue, sore throat and/or headache are common symptoms. The specialist has recently seen a few adolescents with chest tightness and breathing problems.
Covid-19 causes complications in one infected child in 1,000, according to figures provided by Dr De La Fuente, who heads the Covid-19 department at the Paediatric Clinic. The clinic has not seen any more Covid-19 patients with complications since the start of the school year in September. Despite the increase in infections, there have even been fewer hospitalisations of children in the last two months.
The full report in Luxembourgish: