When a pre-schooler gets Covid-19: Two parents' stories

ST ILLUSTRATION: CEL GULAPA

SINGAPORE - On the first day of Chinese New Year, Madam Ling and her family dressed up to snap a photo before leaving the house. But her younger son, aged six, was lethargic and refused to cooperate, simply plopping himself down on the floor.

He was partially vaccinated at the time, and his parents tested him for Covid-19. He was negative.

When the boy threw up and began running a fever, his parents took him to a doctor first thing the next morning, only to be told it was likely to be food poisoning and gave him medication to soothe his tummy and bring down the fever.

The next day, he was almost back to his normal self and no longer seemed as tired as before.

But on the fourth day, Madam Ling herself began developing symptoms. "I was really, really tired; I couldn't sit in front of my computer for long," said the 46-year-old, who works in the media industry. "I couldn't even get myself to do a test for the virus."

Her husband had to help administer an antigen rapid test. It was positive. The rest of the family - her two sons and husband - subsequently also tested positive.

Her older son, 11, came down with a fever and cough and also complained that he was very tired. But both children bounced back from the infection much more quickly than their parents, Madam Ling said.

As their fridge was well-stocked, she mainly fed her family by cooking simple meals such as porridge and soup while in self-isolation.

"At one point, the two boys were screaming at each other while I was lying in bed. And I told my husband that I was so relieved that there was so much noise in the house."

For 38-year-old Ms Lee, whose four-year-old son tested positive on Feb 10, living arrangements were somewhat more complicated because she has two other children.

Her husband and older son, seven, remained in a bedroom, while she set up a mattress in the living room for the younger boy.

Her third child, a one-year-old girl, was at her mother-in-law's house at the time. She remained there until the family was sure that everyone was virus-free.

"I feared further spreading within my family... We were slightly worried about the possibility of serious complications, so we kept our youngest away from home," said Ms Lee, a manager.

"I made sure my son wore his mask properly and kept to his assigned roaming area without touching other furniture and items... I had to give him a bit more screen time to keep him still," she added.

Getting a good night's sleep in the living room was not a challenge for the toddler.

"He can pretty much sleep anywhere as long as he's comfy... And he was very tired during the first two days."

Fortunately, Ms Lee was the only other family member to get infected, as she was taking care of her son. She had mild symptoms.

She then packed away the living room mattress and isolated in the master bedroom with her son.

Apart from a 38.5 deg C fever and a little cough for two days, the boy was well from the third day.

"He was pretty much on his own, only needed to feed him and clean him up. Taking care of my son while feeling under the weather wasn't very tough. I tried to cook very simple meals like porridge in the rice cooker. Fatigue happened to hit me on the weekends, and my husband was home, so I could rest more."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.