Trick or Treaters walk the streets (REUTERS)

As the number of children infected with the coronavirus reaches half a million, Los Angeles, one of the worst-hit American cities of the pandemic so far, is banning children from going door-to-door on Halloween.

Conventional door-to-door trick or treating is prohibited, the county health department announced in a statement, “because it can be very difficult to maintain proper social distancing on porches and at front doors especially in neighbourhoods that are popular with trick or treaters”.

Also ruled out are “trunk or treating” events at which children go car-to-car instead of door-to-door, as well as indoor and outdoor parties and haunted house attractions.

However, citizens are permitted to dress their homes and gardens with halloween decorations, attend halloween-themed drive-in movie nights, and host online parties from their homes.

The move comes as a new study reveals a startlingly high number of cases among American children. According to figures released jointly by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, the total number of cases among children is now at least 513,415 – meaning that children represent around 10 per cent of all known US cases.

While the effects of the virus are known to be more serious in older people and those with underlying health conditions, there have been deaths among small children, as well as multiple cases of an inflammatory Covid-linked syndrome now referred to as multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children.

And with schools reopening in many states, there are widespread worries that even if children are usually not susceptible to the virus’s effects, concentrating them together in classrooms and playgrounds will allow them to spread it to each other — and by extension to their families.

American Academy of Pediatrics president Dr Sally Goza called the findings “a chilling reminder of why we need to take this virus seriously”.

“While much remains unknown about Covid-19,” she said in a statement, “we do know that the spread among children reflects what is happening in the broader communities.

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“A disproportionate number of cases are reported in Black and Hispanic children and in places where there is high poverty. We must work harder to address societal inequities that contribute to these disparities.”

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