Since babies could also be carriers of the virus, it’s a challenge to find someone to look after them

South Bengaluru resident Esther Isaac and her husband tested positive for COVID-19 on April 14. Though they were both under home isolation, what made things very complicated was caring for their 18-month-old daughter.

“We had read that babies can be carriers, so we did not want to risk sending her to anyone’s house. Moreover, since the pandemic, she is very uncomfortable with anyone new,” said Ms. Isaac.

With no alternative left, they decided to keep her with them. “Initially it was very difficult. We started wearing masks all the time and following all procedures. Our daughter did not like us wearing masks and being kept away, and she became cranky and gave up on solids completely. She became more clingy and started breastfeeding more. Each time we had to touch the baby, we would wash our hands. All her items, including her spoon, was kept separately and we did not even wash her clothes along with ours. We could not cook, so friends used to send us food, which she would not eat,” she recalled.

Looking for home-isolated patients

Apart from bringing huge lifestyle changes and immeasurable tragedies, the pandemic has also left parents of young children who end up contracting the disease hapless, especially those in nuclear families.

A couple in north Bengaluru who had to be hospitalised had well-wishers sending out desperate appeals to find COVID-19 positive patients in home isolation willing to babysit their two and five year old.

“Now everybody is so scared that people who don’t have the infection are unwilling to come and help. So they are looking for home-isolated patients,” said one of those people sharing the parents’ appeal.

Rakesh Prabhu’s brother first fell ill, but was told it was not COVID-19 by a neighbourhood doctor. Life went on as usual, until Rakesh’s six-year-old daughter fell ill. Even his parents fell ill, and developed fever. His father tested positive and Mr. Prabhu and his wife got themselves tested, after which it emerged they were positive.

“We live in a single bedroom house, but there was a vacant house next door. The owner was kind enough to let us occupy it for a few days. We later moved back into our house and ensured our daughter was not in contact with us. We ordered food for a few days, but were unhappy with it. My wife’s sister, who was also isolated with us, recovered quickly and thankfully was able to cook for all of us. It was very difficult for us,” he said.

Surpiya also shared the story of her neighbour. Both parents tested positive and each one was quarantined in different rooms. “Their seven-year-old son has been managing with food catered through some agencies. They are stuck inside and they give instructions to him to open and close the door, and spray sanitisers,” she said.

Keeping children away

It is not just COVID-19 positive parents who are finding it hard. S. Swathi’s family consists of her senior citizen parents, both over 75 years, her husband, and two children — 10 and 14 years. Her mother’s condition deteriorated this week and after driving from north to south Bengaluru, they finally found a hospital bed.

“We had driven her and admitted her in the hospital, making us primary contacts. My father is still COVID-19 positive and at home. It is a struggle keeping the children away from us and their grandparents.

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