Parents test positive but have to look after infected infants

ST ILLUSTRATION: CEL GULAPA

SINGAPORE - Clinging to her mother and wailing from the discomfort of being unwell, the seven-month-old baby demanded to be picked up.

Ms Lee, a 28-year-old first-time mum, had to soothe her child while grappling with her own Covid-19 symptoms of headache, fatigue and sore throat.

Ms Lee and her husband had tested positive a few days after their infant was infected on Feb 5.

"It was tough when our symptoms hit hard and we really needed rest, but we were not able to as we also had to take care of her," said Ms Lee, who works in administration.

"My husband needed more rest as he had a fever. During the day, he took care of the baby more so I could rest. The baby is less cranky in the daytime and we can entertain her with toys."

In another household, Mrs Chin, 38, stayed up all night trying to coax her nine-month-old son back to sleep after every violent coughing episode.

"He coughed until he woke. As his airways were congested, we could hear he had trouble breathing," said the sales director.

Her son tested positive on Feb 13, followed by his parents days later.

Sleepless nights, being forced to cast aside their own ailments, and anxiety over their little ones' ability to fight an unpredictable and evolving virus were some of the concerns that parents of infants infected with Covid-19 have had to deal with.

But they were thankful their kids did not develop severe symptoms or had to be hospitalised.

Healthcare administrative worker Bella, 35, and her husband tested positive before their four-month-old son was infected on Feb 5.

"We would be more afraid if our son had developed serious symptoms like high fever and breathing difficulties, and both of us could not exit isolation to take him to hospital," said Bella.

"The only comfort was that I took the primary vaccination doses during my pregnancy, and am still breastfeeding my son. I read that the antibodies will be passed to him."

Both Ms Lee and Mrs Chin found it challenging to stay confined with their babies in one room.

The infants' milk had to be refrigerated, and milk bottle sterilisers were kept in the kitchen.

Mrs Chin said: "There was no space for my child to crawl in the bedroom."

To prevent her three-year-old daughter from being infected, she told the toddler to stay away from her baby brother.

"All stayed masked up at home with frequent handwashing and sterilising," she added.

Since Ms Lee's infant had suffered respiratory distress at birth, she is worried that Covid-19 may trigger long-term lung complications for her.

Her advice to other parents with infected kids is to have items such as fever patches and medication on hand.

She added: "Keep your fridge stocked with easy-to-prepare meals, or seek your family or friends' help to deliver food as you will be preoccupied with your child.

"I gave my kid toys that are easier to clean and disinfect, such as those not made of cloth."

But not all infected infants were miserable.

Bella said: "My son did not show any signs of discomfort. He was still active and smiley, but with a warmer body and occasional coughs."

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