Problem of COVID positive parents: where to keep their uninfected children?

Kolkata: A number of couples in the city, who tested positive for COVID-19 and require hospitalisation are facing a major problem: how to take care of their children who did not contract the disease.

Such parents are frantically calling up doctors of private and state-run hospitals to get a solution, but there is none so far as relatives and friends are not ready to welcome their children for fear of getting infected.

“We have been getting calls from couples who tested positive for coronavirus infection but their children did not.

They don’t have anybody at home to look after their children when they are hospitalised,” a senior executive of a private hospital told PTI on Thursday.

A state government official and his wife had to leave their 17-year-old son alone in their two-room flat in Garia area of the city after testing positive for COVID-19.

“We called up our relatives, close friends and neighbours to allow our son to stay with them for a fortnight or sotill we are discharged from hospital. But everyone denied citing one reason or the other. We had no other option and he stayed alone at home,” the agriculture department official said.

The parents used their phones to help him manage domestic chores for 10 days when they were at hospital.

“We were quite tense. We were at hospital and our son was alone at home managing things single-handedly. We were in touch through phones and video calls,” he added.

The matter was worse for Sunit Mukherjee (name changed on request), who runs an apparel shop at Behala in the southern part of the city, when he and his wife were diagnosed with COVID-19 but their four-year-old daughter and elderly parents were absolutely fine.

“We had nobody to take care of our daughter and my parents. I requested my sister and my brother-in-law to take them to their place but they denied. The response from other relatives and our neighbours is the same.

“So, my parents are managing things alone while we both are here,” said Mukherjee who, along with his wife, is currently undergoing treatment at a hospital in Rajarhat in the eastern fringes of the city.

A senior doctor at the state-run COVID hospital said, “This is quite a major problem for parents. We are getting calls, but we dont know how to help them. It should be addressed by the society itself.”

Another government doctor said that social stigma and confusion related to the disease are creating these problems.

“We ourselves have to decide whether we want to extend a helping hand to a child when the entire globe is facing this pandemic. We have to formulate a programme for this,” he said.

West Bengal till Wednesday has 22,992 active COVID-19 patients and Kolkata accounts for the maximum cases at 6,736.