Update: On February 24, 2022, the couple has confirmed that they have been reunited. They are now in Penny’s Bay to complete the isolation period. However, there are testimonies of other parents separated, on various social media groups. We wish that families will be healthy and soon, reunited as well. Take care all.

An 11-month-old infant was ordered to be separated from her parents for treatment after a positive Covid-19 diagnosis on Monday evening, with the hospital stating it was too full to accommodate even one accompanying parent. Although the parents were ordered to isolate at home as close contacts of the young patient, the mother insisted on accompanying her child for 10 hours.

The baby was taken to Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam late Monday night after the parents noticed she was having difficulty breathing. Doctors suspected she had a lung infection before a test confirmed that she had contracted the novel coronavirus.

The parents were then told to leave the baby for treatment, while they should go home to isolate themselves for 14 days as close contacts. However, they refused to leave, citing their right to accompany their child. While the father was barred from the isolation ward, the mother, Laura, accompanied her daughter for 10 hours. The hospital threatened to escalate the situation with the police, as she was breaking the law for entering the isolation area. “It’s just unfathomable, really,” Laura says.

After being transferred to the ICU for monitoring, she was completely barred from staying at the child’s side. “I pleaded and begged and cried and screamed… they kept saying no, there’s not enough space.”

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covid patients wait on beds outside hong kong hospital
Covid patients wait outside A&E for admission in Hong Kong (© Studio Incendo via Flickr)

Hong Kong reported a new high of 7,533 new Covid-19 infections on Monday. With a ‘universal testing’ plan looming, hospitals are currently so full that all young Covid patients are being admitted alone, even if the parent also tests positive. Under normal circumstances, patients under 18 can be accompanied by one parent whether or not the adult tests positive. Last week, patients could be seen waiting for admittance on beds outside hospitals, before slowly getting indoors ahead of the frigid sub-10 degree weather.

“The doctors were very understanding, but their hands are kind of tied.” Laura was not tested despite her requests to do so, hoping a positive diagnosis could help her case to stay. The father had tested negative with a self-conducted rapid antigen test.

Sadly, the couple’s case is not unique – fifteen babies were alone, separated into isolation wards at the time they were there – the youngest one month old.

Now, they are at home, waiting for news. There is no visitation allowed; the earliest a Covid patient can be released is after seven days with a negative antigen test.

British nationals, Laura and her husband have reached out to a lawyer and the British consulate for help; the latter have sent a letter to the Hospital Authority requesting that the infant be allowed to leave the ward if she’s in stable condition. “She should be with us. There’s no need to keep her in a ward in a room with (…) no one else for days. It’s just so traumatic.”

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Note: Surnames have been kept confidential for the privacy of the family.

Header image credits: Aditya Romansa via Unsplash

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Born in Canada, Danielle is deep diving into the things that make Hong Kong a city of intermingling identities, and bridging the information gap as someone trying to navigate the city herself as a cultural inbetweener. Sometimes this means examining culture and local people’s stories, and other times it means drinking all the milk tea and doing walking explorations of peripheral districts.

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