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"There is so much stigma attached." Bettina's two children were hospitalised with COVID-19.

Bettina’s two children, Charlotte, five, and Frederick, three, suddenly had high temperatures – fevers over 40 degrees.

Even with medication, their temperatures didn’t go down. Not only was it peculiar that they both got sick at the exact same time, Bettina remembers thinking, but it was also odd that even with medication, their fevers did not decrease.

Then the dry cough began.

They knew about the coronavirus pandemic; of course they did. And they had been taking all the necessary precautions to socially distance themselves.

“We live a healthy life and the kids are very active. We haven’t travelled or had contact with anyone ill,” Bettina, who is from Bavaria in Germany, tells Mamamia.

But as their symptoms worsened, Bettina knew her kids should be tested for COVID-19, which at the time of reporting has infected over 750,000 people worldwide.

The results for her children came back: positive. Both of them.

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“For us as parents, it was a shock to hear a positive result with the children. We live in a small town, and we live on a farm. We have no idea how the children got this,” she said.

“It was very disappointing and frustrating that we did not understand how and when they got it.”

Since the diagnosis, they have tried to trace back where the children could have caught the infectious illness, but they still have no answers.

“We definitely thought we would have been the last people to get this virus. It just shows everybody can get it.”

On day three of their symptoms persisting, Bettina and her partner took their kids straight to the hospital.

Indeed, this was nothing “like a cold”, despite the common messaging around COVID-19 that kids would have only mild symptoms.

Charlotte and Frederick were badly sick.

“I was worried as a mother. The lack of information, lack of understanding and the lack of cure or medication makes it difficult,” Bettina said.

In the hospital, Bettina wasn’t able to socially distance herself from her children. As their mother, she needed to look after them when the nurses and doctors couldn’t.

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“If one child is tested positive, then you are treated as if everybody in your family has it.”

They were only seen by medical staff a few times during the day as a precautionary measure to mitigate the risk to doctors and nurses. Bettina was shown how to help treat her children.

“I had to look after the kids in the isolation room in hospital because every time the nurses or doctors had to attend they always had to put the protection clothing on and throw it away after every visit,” she said.

“They can only treat the symptoms so they received paracetamol and drips to fight the dehydration. But when there is such a lack of understanding, it is difficult to keep yourself in the right mind-frame and to remain calm.”

As for how the children coped, Bettina says they understood they had the virus that everyone was talking about.

“For their sake, we did not make a big issue out of it, we tried to treat it as ‘a normal’ virus. It was confusing for them in hospital when everybody had to wear masks but again, we tried to keep it very simple with them. We didn’t want them to freak out too much.”

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Above all else, the most unexpected part of Bettina’s children contracting the coronavirus – apart from them contracting it in the first place – was the social reaction.

“There is stigma attached when you are hit by this coronavirus. People react differently to you and you become known for being the family having this virus, which isn’t a very nice feeling.”

Nevertheless, Bettina and her husband knew they wanted to share their experience, and help debunk the message that children are immune from COVID-19.

To other parents, Bettina asks they “please don’t take this lightly”.

“Stay within your family, it’s really not that bad to stick with those you love.

“Listen to the medical advice, teach your children general hygiene and to stay healthy and safe.”

Thankfully, Charlotte and Frederick have since returned home and are well.

Feature Image: Supplied.

Read more on COVID-19:

If you are sick and believe you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your GP ahead of time to book an appointment. Or call the national Coronavirus Health Information Line for advice on 1800 020 080. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

To keep up to date with the latest information, please visit the Department of Health website.


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