Family COVID-19 Experience with a Toddler and a Preschooler
With Omicron wildly spreading earlier this year, we too were caught in the wave. My whole family was down with COVID. We rode the storm and survived it to tell the tale. Sharing our experience here to allay some of your anxieties, and provide some tips on your next steps. In this post, I’ll refer to my daughters as Grace and Joy, the preschooler and the toddler.
You can skip my long-winded account, and jump straight to the relevant section:
- The Positive Adult who went to Quick Test Centre
- Incubation Period
- Tips for the Covid Positive
- The Toddler: Joy (almost turning 2-year-old)
- The Positive Adult who went to the General Practitioner (“GP”)
- The Preschooler: Grace (turning 5-year-old)
Zoo Trip: Blessings Before the Storm
A trip to the zoo to kickoff Joy’s birthday weekend. Good weather and the children had small blessings throughout the day. I couldn’t believe how blessed they were. As I unwind on the bed, I felt thankful for the day. I read the devotional calendar and it talked about negative circumstances. Not relevant today, still, I was inspired to post the words despite my wanting to doze off:
The moment after I published the Instagram post, my hubby came into the room and said, “I’m positive.”
I looked at him without much fluster. “I’m covid positive.” I gave a sigh, but still, I was not wildly surprised. Somehow the pessimistic me expected something like this would happen to justify the day, the blessings before the storm.
Case #1: The Father, The Hubby
“You are the 3rd one I heard these days where the daddy is positive,” my friend replied to my hubby’s infection.
I thought back to family and friends infected before and after me. Most daddies were the first to be positive for Covid before the rest of the families. Or they were the only ones to be positive. My sample size is small though.
Is it because the guys are less concerned over hygiene? Or is it more spiritual — attack the head of the family to infect the body?
Hubby started sniffing when he got back home from the zoo, getting worse as the night went on. Hence, he tested himself. He was the only one in the family with the booster shot.
After my hubby informed me of his results, I got out of bed and changed the bedsheet of the spare mattress. He was on it the day before. But did it matter if I changed the sheets? Throughout the day in the zoo, the whole family kissed and shared food. But changing the sheets gave my anxiety something to do, a pseudo control over the situation.
Throughout his Covid infection, he didn’t have any fever, just a bad sore throat. He was very tired too and kept sleeping for the first few days. When Joy got infected, he isolated himself with her for a day and a night, before he was out of the isolation room to take care of Grace who was negative then.
ART at Quick Test Centre
That night when he first tested positive, hubby booked an appointment for an Antigen Rapid Test (“ART”) at a Quick Test Centre (“QTC”) for the following day. The ART was free for him, a Singaporean citizen. However, we realised later that he should have visited a doctor because he had symptoms. It would only cost him S$10 for the ART, doctor consultation, and medication.
You can visit a doctor via private transport or request a Telemedicine (TM) consult. My friend requested TM and she didn’t pay for it, and the medication was delivered to her 1 to 2 days later. Visit flu.gowhere.gov.sg for a list of clinics and TM providers.
Note: Individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 within the past 90 days will be exempted from home recovery notice. Self-tested positive results are not considered for exemption.
End of Covid for Case #1
Before my friend got Covid, I didn’t know that a Covid positive (vaccinated adult) can be discharged on Day 7 even with symptoms and a positive result. “So there are actually many positives roaming out there,” she told me. For those who turn negative after 72 hours, they are a free bird too. However, from what I hear, most adults take more than 7 days to turn negative.
On the noon of Day 7, my hubby was able to go back office for his last day of work. A proper goodbye to the place he worked for more than a decade. So timely.
On Day 9 he’s still a positive, albeit a faint positive.
It took another 2 to 3 days for my toddler to become Covid positive. Hearsay, it takes about 3 to 4 days for the second person in the household to get it. And that’s the case for me, I got it 3-4 days after my hubby.
So what did I do when the three of us girls are still free of Covid? Juggling.
Read on for my diary of juggling acts (irrelevant to Covid) or skip to the section on Tips for the Covid positive.
Errands and Enrichment
Hustle began early the next morning. I prepared breakfast for the family and jumped on to disinfect the whole house at high speed before the two girls touch all around. I had hoped this would lower the probability of catching the virus in our own house.
Sunday was supposed to be Joy’s birthday celebration. So this Saturday morning, I informed our party guests about the cancellation, liaised with All Things Delicious about the catering, and arranged to bless others with the catering food to reduce food waste. Time flew and lunch hour was nearing. I had to feed the girls and get them out by noon.
I attended my first piano class with Grace because it’s usually my hubby who accompanies her. Thankfully, my parents had time to stroll Joy to sleep while we play some piano music.
After piano, she went to her swim class, while Joy played with my parents. I got a breather for 20 minutes before it was time to change Grace out of her swimwear and change Joy and me into our swimwear. It’s Joy’s swim lesson now and I went splashing with her. After our swim, we drove to collect Joy’s birthday cake, and buy dinner and breakfast.
Back home, it was single parenting time again. I swirled around to settle their dinner, shower and bedtime. They were finally in bed, and I had to continue to disinfect and clean the house. To add some cheer, I inflated some Minnie balloons for Joy’s mini birthday celebration tomorrow.
End of the day, I was so tired. I was half expecting to catch Covid-19 with my immune system down. Perhaps it might be good because it seemed like hubby had it better with his quarantining and resting.
27.2.22 | Sunday
Blessed birthday Joy!
She was tested positive one day before her actual birthday, what a way to remember her second birthday. Then again, her life had been so marked by the milestones of Covid. Shortly after confinement with her, we went into Singapore’s lockdown (circuit breaker). So she is as “old” as the pandemic in Singapore.
Joy loves the singing of the birthday song, so we had a zoom singalong for her. Hop on to Joy’s 2nd Birthday Celebration post for more.
Back to School
28.2.22 | Monday
“Negative!” My heart leapt as I saw the girls’ ART results. “No fever!” I hoorayed at the green-lighted thermometer. Monday came and I could finally send them to school! Me-time. Time to run errands efficiently! Pardon my exclamation marks of excitement. 😛
Tips for the Covid Positive
Free ART kits from SG Gov
One of my errands was to collect the FREE ART self-test kits. Singapore Citizens and long-term residents who are required to do self ART test can collect 1 pack of 3 ART self-test kits.
Because of my husband, the girls and I were served Health Risk Notice (“HRN”). However, at this point, Joy was still 1 day shy of 2 years old. By law, children under the age of 2 are not required to perform daily ART tests (contrary to the school’s practices). Hence, she’s not eligible for the free kits. Only Grace and I were required to do the self ART test and hence eligible to collect the free kits.
When the second family member was positive, the rest got HRN again and were eligible for more kits. This time hubby went to collect more free ART kits for the family. Because of the continuous HRN, we lost track of how many kits we were eligible for. So hubby kept scanning our identity documents until the vending machine stated he had maxed out the quota.
Find out where you can collect free kits at www.gowhere.gov.sg/art.
About Lianhua Qingwen Jiaonang
Other errands include going to buy herbal tea, more ART kits, disinfectant spray, the Chinese medicine, Lianhua Qingwen Jiaonang, and betadine throat spray (Omicron apparently attacks the throat). However, the latter two were sold out everywhere at that point in time. We fell sick during the Omicron peak. My friends recommended them for our Covid symptoms.
Please note that Lianhua Qingwen is not approved by HSA for Covid-19. It’s more for common flu and cough. My mum used to give me similar Chinese medicine when I am about to fall sick. To curb the illness at the onset.
Thankfully, we bought a box of Lianhua Qingwen to standby before our Covid episode. Didn’t know it could be out of stock so easily. Should have bought more because my hubby finished the box before I became positive. One box only lasts for 2 days. He had no fever, just tiredness and other mild symptoms. Perhaps the pills helped, or perhaps it’s his booster shot.
Update: I felt like I was falling sick in early April 2022, and hence popped some Lianhua pills. Shortly after eating, my throat and chest felt weird, like a minty cooling feeling reverberating throughout. My husband didn’t have the same sensation. Thankfully, my uncomfy symptoms were gone the next day.
When I was down with Covid-19, my dad managed to buy two boxes from the well-stocked Guardian then. However, I didn’t eat the pills because I was having bad nausea, and one of their side effects is nausea.
As for Betadine, I had standby bottles too. I was having a sore throat off and on ever since my Paris trip in November and the Betadine gargle given by the government was good for me. It tastes medicinal and so not many people appreciated it. So I managed to get another bottle from my neighbour who didn’t want it. Thank God, because all the betadine throat gargle and spray were sold out everywhere when I needed them.
Other than temperature, it’s good to monitor the oxygen levels of the Covid positive using an oximeter. According to this guideline for oximeter, head straight to A&E if the reading on the oximeter is less than 90%.
My friend who had Covid called the Home Recovery Programme hotline to request an Oximeter (www.covid.gov.sg/contact-us). She was told that only those who did a PCR test could get one. If only we knew this earlier! Joy did the PCR test and should be able to get one.
I was in need of one when I was suddenly experiencing breathlessness. We didn’t have any because we forgot to collect the free oximeter from the government. So we had to borrow an oximeter from my neighbour.
Case #2: The Toddler (almost turning 2-year-old)
28.2.22 | Monday
The girls and I were negative during the weekend. No symptoms too, except on Sunday night, Joy’s body felt a bit warm. Her temperature was higher than usual, but still below the feverish 37.5 degrees celsius.
While I was almost done with my errands on that Monday morning, I received a call, “Hello, I’m Joy’s teacher. At around 10 plus, Joy was suddenly looking lethargic and not her usual happy active self. She felt warm and so I measured her. The forehead’s temperature is in the normal range, but the ear thermometer shows that she’s having a fever. She usually eats well, but today she didn’t eat much.”
Steps if Toddler is Positive
So I went to pick her up with a heavy heart. I suspect it might be Covid. Suggested steps:
- Measure temperature. Back home, I took her temperature and she was running a high fever.
- ART test. I swabbed her after her nap, and true enough, a dark positive.
- Bring to a paediatrician or a General Practitioner who swabs children under 6 years old.
- Make sure to choose a PHPC clinic that states “Swab tests are available in these hours for Adults · Children aged 0-6 and 7-12.” Certain clinics swab only older children and adults. Visit flu.gowhere.gov.sg for a list of clinics and TM providers.
- For the clinic I went to, the patients had to queue outside. Once called in for registration, we waited inside the clinic, and the doctor saw us shortly after.
- The nurse at the clinic said, “Since she’s below 3 years old, she had to do both the ART and PCR test.” Same poking, but different ways to get results. After subsidies for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents, the bill for the consultation, medication, and two tests amounted to S$10.
- Isolate. Daddy isolated with Joy in the master bedroom. She kept waking up in the night, I suspect it’s either because of the fever or the unfamiliar sleep environment.
Toddler Covid Period and Recovery
1.3.22 – 3.3.22 | Tuesday – Thursday
Even though Joy tested positive today, she was officially positive only the next day after the PCR result came out. On a positive note, Joy’s fever subsided within 24 hours and she’s back to her active and eating self.
Joy isolated with hubby the first night and then with me on the second night. By Tuesday, I was positive and according to a GP, more infectious than my hubby. Hence he was tasked to take care of Grace who was still free of Covid, while I isolated with Joy.
The sisters missed each other, so we opened the door and let them talk while standing more than a meter apart. Eating and dancing together in a distance. They missed each other more during the bedtime routine where they usually huddle in Grace’s bedroom.
4.3.22 | Friday
“Hello, I am calling from MOH,” the lady on the other end said. She asked about Joy’s condition and had me measure Joy with an oximeter. Good thing we had borrowed an oximeter from our neighbour, but unfortunately, that meant I didn’t request them to send us one (which could be possible because of Joy’s PCR test). At the end of it, Joy had to do a video call with her too. I guess it’s to check that Joy was really at home recovering.
Joy being swabbed and on another time, dancing with Grace.
Case #3: The Mother, The Wife
28.2.22 | Monday
I sent Joy into isolation and Grace into her bed. Washing the dishes in the dark of the night, I started to feel warm and my throat was scratchy. I was still hoping the symptoms were only because I was physically exhausted.
Covid Adult at GP Clinic
1.3.22 | Tuesday
I woke up to a fever and thus tested myself. Surprisingly, there was no line. I left the test kit on the kitchen countertop and after a long while, I glanced at the kit when I walked past it. “Wait a minute,” I thought to myself. I took a closer look, picked up the kit and peered even closer. There’s a super faint line.
“I might have Covid,” I said in a low voice, fearing judgment from the other patients waiting in the clinic. I went to a PHPC clinic nearer to me this time, not the one I visited with Joy.
“Wait outside,” the nurse said in a flat tone and pointed towards the door.
I waited for a long time and started to wonder if the nurse still remembered I was there. Not a good system to prevent the spread of Covid, I thought to myself. People were walking past me in the busy footway. Another Covid patient came and joined me outside.
Soon the nurse came out and passed me a beeper. “I didn’t forget you, go to the back of the clinic when this beeps. There are still a few more patients.” Shouldn’t the clinic swab and send the Covid patients back home first instead of others? Or at least do a first come first serve system like the other clinic we went to for Joy.
The doctor finally saw me in the room near the back exit, and the nurse swabbed me at the makeshift tent outside of the clinic.
“You tested yourself at home and it is positive right?” the nurse asked.
“It was a very faint line,” I replied.
“Ya, it’s still very faint, I can’t really see it.” I was surprised to hear this, thinking my positive line would be darker after a few hours. “Let me check with the doctor later, you can go back home first.” Well, the doctor marked me positive — likely because I’m a close contact and exhibiting symptoms.
As a Singaporean, the ART test, doctor’s consultation and medicine cost me S$10 in total as well.
If you are diagnosed by the doctor to have a respiratory infection (e.g. common cold), you would enjoy subsidised consultation and treatment as follows:
- Singaporean and Permanent Residents, as well as eligible work permit holders (excluding foreign domestic workers and performing artistes), would pay a flat subsidised rate of $10
- Pioneer Generation (PG) and Merdeka Generation (MG) seniors would pay a lower rate of $5
- Public Assistance (PA) cardholders need not pay
GST will be fully absorbed by the Government.
2.3.22 | Wednesday
I had the worst symptoms in my family. I was super tired and had bad nausea, cough and fever. My throat was itchy at the onset but it went away after I tested positive. I wanted to sleep the whole day, but couldn’t because Joy was isolated together with me and she was well and active. Also on the first night with Joy, I couldn’t sleep well because she kept waking up at night.
My mum cooked a lot of food for us (lunch and dinner) and left them outside. My dad also got me the Lianhua Qingwen pills and herbal tea. However, my nausea made me lose appetite. I took one mouth of the food and gagged and almost puked. I only ate one bao and a few mouths of rice for the whole day. Hence, I didn’t want to take the Lianhua Qingwen pills because nausea is a potential side effect.
3.3.22 | Thursday
My mother cooked us more food today, and I asked for plain porridge to go easy on my stomach. My appetite was slowly returning, and my fever was gradually subsiding. Speaking of food, we’re grateful to the Yoong family who sent us food a few days ago and today.
While putting Joy to sleep, I started to experience slight breathlessness. My hubby’s watch indicated my oxygen levels to be 70%, which was dangerously low (according to this guideline). Like someone with mild PTSD, I panicked. I didn’t want to go back to the hospital. I measured again some time later and was back to above 90%. Meanwhile, I was asking around my neighbours to borrow an oximeter, and glad I found one to confirm my oxygen level to be 90%. Why did I forget to collect the free oximeter?! 🙁
By the way, Grace was tested negative this Thursday morning. Since everyone had Covid, the girls could entertain each other, and hubby could take care of them while I napped. Even after 2 hours of nap, I was still tired.
4.3.22 | Friday
“Bye, love you,” we said to hubby. He had to go back to the office for his last day, leaving me the two girls who were now well and active.
It’s Day 4 and I was still feeling unwell and tired. I wished I could take MC from my children and just sleep the whole day.
Case #4: The Preschooler (turning 5-year-old)
I’ve contemplated whether to send Grace to the grandparents’ place when her sister got infected. However, I’m not sure if Grace has already been infected. And since the grandparents are considered a high-risk group, I decided not to risk them for the sake of Grace.
Shortly before our infection, two of our close family friends were infected, but their youngest child didn’t get it. So I was hoping Grace would be the survivor of our family. But alas, she was tested positive in the end. I suspect it was because she had a double whammy of Covid infection — from her daddy and her class teacher who tested positive one day before her. Otherwise, I think she might have survived unscathed.
My hubby was the one who took care of Grace when I became positive. He’s supposedly less infectious than me. He tried his best, but according to my high standards, still not stringent enough in keeping a safe distance from Grace or disinfecting the surfaces thoroughly. He did wear a mask around her though.
3.3.22 | Thursday
Before going to school, Grace tested positive during her daily routine ART test. Hubby brought her to a PHPC clinic that swabbed children below 6 years old. Visit flu.gowhere.gov.sg for a list of clinics and TM providers.
Grace didn’t have symptoms. Her fever only came later in the afternoon and was gone within 24 hours. Even though she was unwell, she was still active and eating well. She quickly recovered by Day 5. I’m thankful for her strong immunity. She recovered the fastest among us.
End of Covid Saga
8.3.22 | Tuesday
Joy and I can officially be discharged and free to roam today. However, with hubby out to work, we could only stay isolated with the positive Grace.
9.3.22 | Wednesday
Except for Grace, the rest of us didn’t find out when exactly we were negative again. We were all still positive until day 7.
I got Dettol disinfectant spray to spray everywhere and used the Dettol antiseptic liquid to wipe the surfaces, making sure to wipe high touch surfaces. If you want to save the effort and be really thorough, you can consider engaging a cleaning company to disinfect the house.
For us who have recovered from COVID-19, we will be exempted from HRN for 90 days. Too bad our travel plans don’t exactly fall within these 90 days.
I was still feeling tired, unsure if it was because of Covid or it was because of the tiring two weeks. But glad our lingering symptoms were not that bad. Hubby and I still had occasional coughs for another week or so, with me experiencing slight breathlessness.
Meanwhile, I’m praying that there are no long term effects on us, especially the unvaccinated young children.
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