Separated from parents, 2-year-old spends tough night in isolation
At 7pm on Friday, a two-year-old boy tested Covid-19 positive in Delhi’s Kalawati Saran Children’s Hospital. The child was immediately moved to an isolation ward, away from his parents who are awaiting their own test results.
Doctors are unsure how the child caught the virus and the health care workers will begin their contact tracing programme once the parents’ results too are in.
So far, the youngest casualty of the virus in the Capital was a 45-day-old infant.
Doctors and nurses of Kalawati Saran Children’s Hospital, who were on duty on Friday night, narrated how the child spent the night away from his parents, who are isolated in Lady Hardinge Hospital, while the staff tried everything to keep the him comfortable.
“The child was admitted to the hospital on Thursday and his test results came out on Friday. He was in the hospital’s severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) ward but after the results came, he was shifted to the Covid ward,” said a senior doctor, who was with the child through Friday night.
The doctor said that while the child was playful for the first few hours after being shifted to the coronavirus wing. “But as time went by, he started becoming restless. Since the child’s parents were yet to get their results, he was left with the medicos for his care,” he said.
“Taking care of infants, especially when they are forced to stay in isolation without their parents, is very difficult,” said a nurse in the hospital, who did not wish to be identified.
The task became all the more challenging because the child is still dependent on breast milk and had to be fed in regular intervals. In such cases, when a mother is unable to feed the baby directly the hospital relies on expressed breast milk where the milk from the mother is collected and fed to the child by a nurse using a bowl and a spoon.
“By 8.30pm, we did the first feeding after which he played for a while and took a nap. But as the night passed and the child did not see any familiar face around, he started panicking,” the nurse said.
She said that the baby may have gotten scared of the hospital staff entering the ward to check his health status wearing in the personal protective equipment (PPE), which covers from head to toe. The child kept waking up through the night and around 4am on Saturday woke up again, crying.
“We were checking for any physical discomforts and changed the diaper also, just to be sure. He was largely irritable all night,” another nurse in the ward said.
The health care professionals who are tending to the baby said that in the coming days if the tests of the baby’s parents come out negative, they will be allowed to come and see the child, but only after they are fully geared with safety equipment.
Dr. N N Mathur, director, Lady Hardinge Medical College, under which the Kalawati Saran Children’s Hospital is associated, said that the situation was tricky but the hospital was prepared to take up the challenge.
“When we see such young children get infected, it is heart-breaking. But our primary aim as a children’s hospital is to give our best and cure them at the earliest,” Dr Mathur said.
Dr. Anjali Prabhakaran, a paediatrician who is researching on the effects and treatment possibilities for Covid-19 infected children, said that though symptoms of the infection in younger children is not very severe when compared to adults, it is imperative that extreme care be taken while caring for them. There is no separate global protocol for children infected with the infectious virus.
“Many children show signs of fatigue, nasal congestion, runny nose, diarrhoea and head ache along with fever. What is even more challenging in paediatric cases is the isolation, so looking at familiar faces of family member really boosts their spirits,” Dr Prabhakaran.
Until Saturday night, Delhi had reported 6542 Covid-19 positive cases with 68 deaths and 2,020 recoveries.
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