Save the Children Hong Kong : Better Child-friendly Quarantine arrangement is needed in Hong Kong
Save the Children Hong Kong is deeply concerned about the media reports and public enquiries regarding young children being separated from their parents and caregivers as a result of isolation and quarantine measures.
To stabilise the recent wave of epidemic in safeguarding public health, quarantine and isolation have been implemented where necessary. However, separating children from their families could have negative impacts on their long-term psychological development and mental well-being. This is particularly true for younger children, as well as children with special needs. Non-health needs and concerns of children that may develop for families both within and outside facilities, may not have been appropriately addressed by facilities dedicated to quarantine and isolation.
In the past weeks, 9% of confirmed cases involve children under the age of 6 or below. We are concerned that uncertain arrangements and guidelines may cause stress and anxiety among children and their families, and possibly discourage parents from seeking aid and diagnosis from the hospital.
To better protect children’s best interests and their rights to the best possible health care, as stated in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), we urge the government to adopt the following measures:
- Ensure the quarantine and isolation arrangement set out by the government involving children is executed properly by all public hospitals in Hong Kong.
- Employ all the possible means to maintain safe and regular contact among children and their parents or caregivers during any necessary separation.
- Provide clear guidance and information to parents or caregivers on how to support their children’s well-being and manage their own well-being during any necessary separation.
- Ensure health facilities and health information are child-friendly, including providing guidance for health staff on child-friendly communication and support for children’s well-being.
- Ensure parents/caregivers and children have access to appropriate mental health and psychosocial support during any necessary separation.