Deer Lake's 5-year-old COVID patient doing well after initially testing negative

·3 min read

A mother in Deer Lake wasn't satisfied with a negative COVID-19 test when her child continued to show symptoms of the virus, and her insistence on getting retested likely saved more people from becoming infected.

The woman, who CBC is not naming to protect the identity of the child, wants people to know that they handled the situation with more caution than was even necessary.

Her daughter, a student at Elwood Elementary School, was a close contact of the cluster that started in Deer Lake last week. She went into isolation right away and was tested late last week. She got news on Friday that she tested negative.

Despite the test result, her mother worried when she wasn't acting like herself, had a fever and was lethargic. She felt the test was performed too soon after her daughter's contact with a known case.

"It was definitely a false sense of security," she said of the initial test result. "It was a huge relief, but you know, with that sense of false security I'm hoping that others are doing what I did in monitoring their children."

The child was tested again, and it came back positive on Monday morning.

I do want people to know that even though they may test negative, a positive unfortunately may be around the corner. - Mother of child with COVID-19

The Newfoundland and Labrador English School District shut her school down later that morning. Health officials have said more than 30 children in her class cohort went into self-isolation.

"As of right now, there haven't been any positives linked directly to her," her mother told Newfoundland Morning on Thursday. "Her classroom has all quarantined. So I'm hoping that, given all her close contacts are all quarantined since this weekend, I'm hoping that it will end with us."

Shortly after speaking with CBC News, the provincial government announced a person under the age of 19 did test positive in the Western Health region. It was not related to the five-year-old's case, and the person has been quarantined since coming into contact with the virus.

The mother doesn't want other positive cases to be treated as rule-breakers. She also doesn't want parents to take a negative result as an all-clear.

"I'm not out to scare anybody or anything like that, but I do want people to know that even though they may test negative, a positive unfortunately may be around the corner," she said.

Elwood Elementary was closed Monday and Tuesday, and the town's other two schools saw a combined 20 students in attendance for those same days.

The elementary school reopened on Wednesday.

Colleen Connors/CBC
Colleen Connors/CBC

The young girl seems to have a mild case, her mother said, and she hopes to recover soon. After testing positive, her first reaction was relief that she didn't have to endure the nasal swab again.

"I think given her age, and she doesn't have any pre-existing conditions, she's doing quite well thankfully," her mother said.

She is concerned about the reaction her child might get when she returns to school. Some families going through COVID-19 have had to deal with an online witch hunt and widespread negativity, though the mother said most people she's spoken with have been supportive.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Janice Fitzgerald has repeatedly asked people to act with empathy and kindness, but not everyone has been listening.

"I am fearful her classmates may know she's the reason that they are out of school for two weeks," the mother said.

"But her and I do have an amazing relationship and we have awesome coping skills for our own mental health. I think with the support she has from myself and her stepdad and everybody else in her circle who [loves] her, I think she'll do just fine."

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