Many parents in Vizag who have tested positive for Covid-19 and need hospital admission are facing a predicament apart from the trauma of being infected — where to send their children who have tested negative. The problem is arising because most city children live in nuclear families, and their relatives and neighbours are reluctant to put them up for the period their parents spend in the hospital or a satellite facility.
Doctors and hospitals are receiving calls from such parents who want to know how to deal with the situation. Last week, a doctor in Pradhama Hospital received a call from a woman, who had tested positive for Covid-19 a week earlier, was concerned about her husband’s health, but she was vastly more worried about the safety of her two young children.
Another employee of the BPO firm faced similar quandary after tested positive for the coronavirus. Their son, who had appeared in his Plus II exams, had to live alone in their apartment. “I requested several neighbours and relatives but everyone politely refused, saying they had children and elderly people at home,” Bhargavi said. “Finally, a relative agreed to put him up.
A well-noted Paediatrician in the city said, he was receiving an average of 10 phone calls daily from couples who had tested positive and were worried about what to do with their children. “The rate of Covid-19 infection among children is low compared to adults. The problem parents are facing is how to take care of a child when they themselves are in isolation,” Dr. G Ganesh Babu said. “Most children live in nuclear families. But even in instances where they have grandparents, it’s not advisable to expose the elderly relatives to chances of infection.” Babu added
Nor is it advisable for such children to accompany their parents to the institutional safe homes where some Covid-19 patients with mild or no symptoms are being put up, because it exposes them to multiple sources of infection, Babu said. As for infected parents in the home isolation who want to send their uninfected children away for a while, Babu is advising them to let the very small children stay with them while taking all possible safety measures. “They must wear facemasks, wash their hands regularly and maintain all other safety norms to reduce the chances of transmitting the infection,” Babu said.
Public health experts said the problem stemmed partly from the fear and stigma that large segments of society associate with Covid-19. “The problem has to be addressed by society itself. We have to decide whether or not we want to extend a helping hand to a child,” said Dr. K V Srinivas public health expert. The need of the hour is the government’s association with NGOs, recovered Covid-19 patients to work out a programme to help such children. “We have to devise a programme to reach out to such parents and counsel neighbours and relatives,” However, there have been instances of neighbours, colleagues and parents of the child’s friends coming forward to help, Srinivas added.
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