'Other mothers' were mostly women COVID-19 positive patients, nurses, and doctors

Gangtok: Sikkim’s youngest COVID-19 positive patient, a 2.3-year-old girl, was discharged from the isolation ward of STNM Hospital in Gangtok on Saturday. The baby was of concern, not merely because she was the youngest, but also because her mother had tested negative and was taken care of by most of the other women patients and nurses at the isolation ward for almost a month.

Admitted on the night of June 10 from the Paljor Namgyal Girls Senior Secondary school quarantine facility, her father was placed in another quarantine facility in Pakyong, 35 kms away, while the mother was left behind at the PNG school quarantine facility.

The child had come from Rajasthan and had an extended stay in Kolkata, West Bengal with her parents, prior to their entry to Sikkim. Upon the discharge of the baby girl, pediatrician Jigmee Tenzing, who was the doctor in charge at the isolation ward over the last one week, told EastMojo, “She was admitted on the night of June 10 and for the next two weeks, she was still COVID positive. When we conducted a test 2-3 days ago, it was only then that she tested negative. Now, she is doing fine, totally asymptomatic and ready to go home.”

“The food given to her was mostly normal diet, she was having bread as any other patient, she was being aided by other women patients, taking her to the toilet and catering to her every other need. She was not being breastfed and was a very adjustable baby. The disease can extend for two-three weeks, hence it took time. Now her immune system has overcome the disease. She tested negative on two occasions, she got the best treatment and love from all around as a child gets,” Tenzing added.

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The child had come from Rajasthan and had an extended stay in Kolkata, West Bengal with her parents before they entered Sikkim

Upon hearing of the discharge, the father of the baby who was still under home quarantine in Luing village, near Gangtok after a week of being discharged from Pakyong quarantine. He was allowed by the Panchayat of his village to come fetch the baby. A message was conveyed to the father in the early hours of Saturday morning to come take the young patient.

Speaking with EastMojo, the father of the baby after meeting his infant daughter, stated, “Without the baby, it has been sleepless nights for me. This morning I woke up at 3 am as the doctors had prompted the second test result conducted in 24 hours would come out today. Around 6:30 am in the morning, I got a call from the doctor telling me that the baby tested negative and was ready for discharge. I was at the hospital from 8 am. My world revolves around my baby, be it here with her or anywhere else in the world.”

The father of the baby extended gratitude to all those women who came in aid of the baby as her ‘second mother’ in the isolation ward, along with the doctors and nurses giving her the best of their attention and care. The mother of the baby is still under quarantine and could not come to the hospital to get her daughter. The baby has been instructed strict quarantine at home for the next 14 days, informed the Hospital officials.

“It was a mistake on our part to come back home, had we stayed back in Rajasthan maybe she would not have tested positive. We had reached Kolkata in West Bengal from Rajasthan and we had made some movements around in an attempt to reach back home in Sikkim. We had stayed for almost 3 months there, we had applied for tickets to return, but with my voter card not being with me at the given moment, the same could not be finalised earlier, hence we got late in returning,” the father said.

The father of the girl extended gratitude to all those who came in aid of the baby as her ‘second mother’ in the isolation ward, along with the doctors and nurses

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The baby was admitted from the PNG School Quarantine with symptoms of fever. Even while in quarantine, the father admits that he had tried to provide all requirements for the baby though aids from his family. The same facilitation followed in the hospital as well, from her diapers to other requirements being aided by the father, even for those taking care of the baby in the hospital.

“Being away from her was tough all these time, I couldn’t eat well, video calling was allowed, initially she used to cry but later she got acquainted with those around and stopped crying as well. I used to think she had forgotten us, but now that she is silent and at peace in my arms, I think she had not forgotten her father,” he said.

The only concern as placed by the father was no prior information to him was given to him, as to when the baby had to be moved from quarantine to isolation in hospital, after testing positive. “When we were put under quarantine, the contact details of the family members were taken, my number was taken by the quarantine incharge, so information by the doctors concerned taking my baby to isolation, should have been informed to me. The baby was tested as part of the procedure and it appears that her results had come through by 3 pm on that day. Yet she was taken to isolation late around 11 pm only on that night,” he said.

“Any member of the family could have been informed about the baby testing positive and being moved to the COVID Hospital. Initially I panicked and I urged the Pakyong quarantine incharge to help me get in touch with the quarantine in charge of PNG School. But later I learned she was already moved to STNM Hospital as part of the procedure. Then I was connected with the nurses in the isolation ward of the Hospital, who assured me that she was safe and even put me on the phone with her. That moment was gratifying to hear her voice and to know that she was safe and sound. This carried on for the last few weeks until now that I can see her in person. It has been a tough few weeks,” shared the father.

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On the first ‘other mother’ who took care of the baby, she had swapped her own baby after testing positive. The mother of the 2.3 year old COViD positive baby, had taken responsibility of her baby, as the two mothers reached a consensus late night when they were being taken to STNM Hospital.

Sharing the account of that night when he was far away from the entire episode unfolding at PNGSchool quarantine facility, the father said, “Initially, it was a Lepcha woman who took care of my baby, later it was another woman from Namchi who took special care of the baby as her mother in the isolation ward. Now, that they have discharged from the Hospital, they have been urging me to do a video call with the baby.”

“It does appear that the two ladies have really bonded with my daughter while she was the favourite for the entire COViD positive patients in the ward. Surely she must have brought smiles on everyone at such a time of need. Even when they were discharged after testing negative, they always had a concern for the baby, asking us how she was doing. I used to feel I had concern only for my baby, but now with all the love and care that my daughter got they have made me think otherwise for every other baby,” he added.

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