Coronavirus and Children’s Palliative Care

Do you have questions? Do you want to join us for a weekly webinar? Join us for ‘Time to talk: A virtual hub for the serious illness and palliative care community during the Covid-19 pandemic

Friday 3rd April 2020 13.00-1400 UK time. To join via zoom click here

Open to all who live with palliative care needs, palliative care health professionals and carers worldwide. Around the world people with palliative care needs and those caring for them are living through or preparing for Covid-19. As a community, we are all coping with different levels of resources and are in different places in the journey. This is a virtual space where you can join, chat, ask questions, answer questions, share, or just listen in silence in an open virtual space in these unprecedented times.

Organised by: ICPCN, The Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance (WHPCA), The International Association of Hospice & Palliative Care (IAHPC) and Palliative Care Voices

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus. ‘CO’ stands for corona, ‘VI’ for virus, and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as ‘2019 novel coronavirus’ or ‘2019-nCoV’.

The COVID-19 virus is a new virus linked to the same family of viruses as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and some types of common cold.

How is COVID-19 spread?

It mainly spreads from person-to-person between people who are in close contact with one another and through respiratory droplets produced when coughing or sneezing. If these droplets get in the mouths or noses of nearby people or if they are inhaled then this can cause the disease to spread. It is important that you do not touch your face/mouth as it is also possible to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it. It is thought that the virus can spread prior to individuals showing symptoms, although it is most contagious when they are sick.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia or breathing difficulties. More rarely, the disease can be fatal. These symptoms are similar to the flu (influenza) or the common cold, which are a lot more common than COVID-19. This is why testing is required to confirm if someone has COVID-19.

Who is most at risk?

Older people, and people with chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, appear to be more at risk of developing severe symptoms. As this is a new virus, we are still learning about how it affects children. We know it is possible for people of any age to be infected with the virus, but so far there are relatively few cases of COVID-19 reported among children. The virus can be fatal in rare cases, so far mainly among older people with pre-existing medical conditions, however we are aware that children receiving palliative care and with chronic life-limiting conditions are extremely vulnerable. This is a new virus and we need to learn more about how it affects children. 

What is the treatment for COVID-19?

There is no currently available vaccine for COVID-19. However, many of the symptoms can be treated and getting early care from a healthcare provider can make the disease less dangerous. There are several clinical trials that are being conducted to evaluate potential therapeutics for COVID-19.







How to avoid catching or spreading coronavirus

  • Wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • Always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.

Advise re Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

The following is advise from the World Health Organisation with regards to PPE and the use of masks etc. 
This is  the public facing information for when to wear a mask – 
This is the country and national technical guidance from WHO:

COVID-19 and Children with Comorbidities

The evidence for COVID-19 and children is minimal but information can be found here. There is little clinical data to inform us on the effect of COVID-19 on children with other comorbidities. Some data has been published from a liver transplant unit in Lombardy, Italy, which had 3 cases of COVID-19 in post-transplant patients who all suffered very mild symptoms.

COVID-19 and Palliative Care

ICPCN are in the process of developing some guidelines for children’s palliative care and the coronavirus and we will share these once they have been completed.

ICPCN recommends that all those caring for children with palliative care needs read and adhere to WHO guidelines to control the spread of the virus and protect their children. Below we have provided links to guidelines from which can be helpful.

Some useful documents include the following:

More information about palliative care and Covid-19 can be found on the global palliative care website 

Different countries and governments are following different policies on dealing with COVID-19 and it is important that individual palliative care providers take note of what their own governments are saying. Some examples from around the world include the following:

The EAPC also has some useful resources from the response it Italy and these can be found here

One of the challenges of COVID-19 is the impact that it is having and will continue to have, on the provision of health care, for example, the provision of home palliative care, respite care etc. As we hear of new developments we will try and keep this resource page up-to-date through signposting to the experts in the field.

Resources for Children

Several great resources have been developed for children about Covid-19 including storybooks, guides on how to talk to children about Covid etc. Some examples can be found here:

Resources for self care


The recording of the webinar held by WHPCA on Friday 20th March on Coronavirus and people with serious conditions and underlying issues can be found here

The recording of the ECHO on Paediatric Palliative Care and Covid-19 from Hyderabad Centenaries for Palliative Care can be found here


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