Canberra mother's stress after child caught COVID-19

Aimee Kerin with two-year-old Evie who has contracted COVID-19, and four-year-old Harrison. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong
Aimee Kerin with two-year-old Evie who has contracted COVID-19, and four-year-old Harrison. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

It's every mother's nightmare. Aimee Kerin is home alone with her two young children: one toddler has caught COVID while the other is free of the disease.

"I'm at my wit's end," the mother said from her isolation at home in Crace.

Little two-year-old Evie has tested positive but four-year-old Harrison was tested negative - but there's no way they can be kept apart.

"They play together. They are sharing things," the exasperated mother said. If she tried to separate them, "they would be screaming their heads off".

They have separate bedrooms so they can be kept apart at night but being cooped up for days on end is firing up their energy when they wake.

"With two kids being fed up with being stuck at home for two weeks, and me trying to work as well, it just doesn't stop," she said.

And the mother who is separated from the children's father is at severe risk of catching COVID herself. But, she asks, what can she do?

On top of all that, she is trying to keep working at home to observe the ruling from the ACT government and from her employers.

The children were staying with a relative over the weekend when Evie caught COVID.

The mother is annoyed at ACT Health for what she says is its lack of support, firstly in helping her get tested and secondly in helping her cope.

The two children were tested on Tuesday at Weston Creek, and only when the positive result for Evie came in did she realise that she also needed testing. She says she was then told that an ambulance would take days to get to her.

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In the end, on Thursday, she drove up to the testing site at EPIC. She was waiting for the results at home with the two children.

She does have the help of her parents who are both in their 70s and so, vulnerable to the virus.

They buy food and leave it outside the door for the family as their wait continues to see who exactly has or hasn't got the illness. Both have been vaccinated.

Fortunately, the most serious, life-threatening effects of COVID haven't appeared. Evie doesn't have any obvious symptoms.

Ms Kerin says that the ACT government has provided financial support for people hit by the pandemic but not the kind of support she needs.

"I feel like the minister says there's so much support, but I feel it's box-ticking," she said.

The ACT government was looking into the family's situation.

The policy is for COVID cases to be isolated at home where possible so that pressure on hospitals is minimised.

The ACT government defines a "primary close contact" of a person with COVID as someone who has "had face-to-face contact for any amount of time or shared a closed space for at least one hour with a confirmed case during their infectious period".

That obviously raises difficulties for parents of young children who contract the illness.

As more cases occur, there is the question of resources being spread more thinly.

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This story Mum 'at wit's end' after two-year-old girl catches COVID first appeared on The Canberra Times.