With all the adults in a family of 15 from Danilimda testing positive for the virus, there is no one to look after four young children who tested negative. Their mothers have no choice but to keep the perfectly healthy kids with them in the Covid-19 ward at Ahmedabad Civil Hospital

| Ahmedabad Mirror Bureau |

When Zaid, a one-year-old kid embraces his mother Kulsum, there seems to be no anomaly in it. Till you learn that Zaid’s mother has been detected as Covid-19 positive while he is perfectly healthy.

Zaid’s health — and potentially his life — is at risk while he comfortably shares the bed with his mother in the B4 ward of Ahmedabad Civil Hospital.

In the day time Sajida, Kulsum’s sister in law, takes care of little Zaid. She gives him food, plays with him and spends her time with him. Zaid has three more siblings. The eldest, 13-year-old Alina, has also tested negative for the virus. However, Alvina, 10, and Zainab, 7, have not been spared.

Not a single minute goes by without Kulsum hoping against hope that her relatives comes to take her kids and Sajida’s two kids (Sadab, 5, and Inaya, 1.5 yrs, who also tested negative for Covid-19) from this dangerous and infectious zone.

Kulsum and eight others from the family including Sajida were detected as Covid-19 positive on April 14. They are being treated in a special coronavirus patient zone in Civil Hospital’s Covid-19 Care Hospital. Without family support, Kulsum and Sajida are compelled to take care of four young children along with themselves in these turbulent times.

What alternatives do COVID 19 patients have?

In circumstances where elderly citizens or children are dependent on a Covid-19 patient, the government has allotted what is known as a C team of lady police personnel who are responsible for taking adequate care of these groups. While the Shaikh family seems to be unaware of this provision, whether the government has taken enough steps to publicise this policy to Covid-19 patients remains to be seen. The Shaikhs have tried their best to seek help in ways they can but in these scary times, none of their relatives are brave enough to house the four kids who are hale and hearty and have not displayed any corona virus symptoms so far.

Kulsum is married to Imran Shaikh while Sajida is married to Imran’s brother Asif. Together they are 15 family members who are residents of Danilimda. Imran is all praise for the staff at Civil who have been taking “very good care” of them.

Our family’s ordeal began on April 11: Imran

Kulsum’s husband Imran said their ordeal started on April 11 when their mother Shaderabanu Shaikh tested positive. She was shifted to Sardar Vallabhai Patel hospital for treatment. Later the remaining 14 members, residents of Danilimda, was shifted to Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation’s Covid-19 Care Centre in Nikol. “We were tested on April 13 and results came out on April 14. The kids were with us throughout. When the centre authorities informed us that 10 of the 14 members have tested positive, what worried us the most was who will look after the four kids who tested negative. Our relatives are in good health and we were hoping they would look after the kids,” said Imran, an employee of a security company.

They had to leave the Nikol centre as the staff there said they will not be able to take care of the children. “When we came to the Civil Hospital, the doctors took an objection. We did not have anyone to leave our kids with and we pleaded with them to allow us to keep the children too. Where else do we send them? We had no option but to keep them with their mothers in Covid-19 ward,” he said.

‘I know risk of keeping Zaid, but what can I do?’

Imran, his father Aslambhai, brother Asif and cousin Javed are admitted in C-4 ward of Covid-19 special ward at Civil. Two other kids of the family Alvina (10) and Zainab (7) who tested positive are with the women in B-4 ward.

“I know the risk of keeping Zaid with me. But what do I do? When he sees me, he wants to be with me. He sleeps with me in the same bed. I feed him and bathe him. I wear a mask but we don’t have gloves. I curse myself whenever I have to touch my children but we do not have a choice,” said Kulsum. “We do not have any issue here. We are getting good treatment. The medical staff also takes care of us. If we get help from the hospital or district administration in moving the four kids to a safe place, we will be at peace,” Imran said.

Ahmedabad District Collector offers to help

Civil Hospital’s Medical Superintendent Gunvant Rathod did not pick up calls made by Mirror. Ahmedabad Collector K K Nirala was shocked when Mirror informed him about the family’s plight. He volunteered to help.

“This may turn dangerous. Authorities of hospitals have to set up facilities in a way that keeps children safe. They cannot live with parents who tested positive.”

Nirala checked with Superintendent Rathod before calling up Mirror to say, “The superintendent is keen to have a care centre for such children. This is the first such case. He did not know about the case but now as he is informed, he is keen to set up such a facility.”

Civil hosp superintendent fails to respond

Kulsum said her daughter Alina, 13, knows all about coronavirus and could also stay in isolation. “But she is still in corona ward and there is risk involved. Toddlers run around and play here. It breaks our heart to put our children through this danger, but we don’t know what else to do,” she said.

“Relatives fear catching the infection and so have been giving us excuses like their society is not allowing them to help us out,” said Imran. Superintendent of Civil Hospital, Gunvant Rathod did not respond to calls and messages.