Children as Young as 6-Years-Old Quarantine in Hotel After International Travel

Photo: (Photo : Tadeusz Lakota / Unsplash)

The coronavirus pandemic changed the way people traveled and returned to their homeland. Countries are crossing borders, and locals find it hard to comply with self-isolation rules upon their return home. But, parents cannot help but worry about how the young ones can cope with self-isolation when it comes to quarantined kids.

Before the Policy Change, Families Quarantine Together

Australia's strict entry rules previously had families in isolation together. They are sent to mandatory quarantine in a hotel for two weeks before they can go home. Parents like Janet Manley told of the challenges of having toddlers in isolation, demanding to keep them busy.

Meanwhile, a parent to a teenager, Earle-Levine, revealed that while she was in isolation with her 13-year-old, she saw how he could adapt his usual activities and entertain himself. At the same time, his mom took care of her schedule, CNN reported.

NSW Policy Change on Children Arriving from Overseas

Previously children were allowed to self-isolate under the supervision of their guardian or a parent. Returning children from overseas travel would not be left alone at a private residence.

Yet, changes have been made to the policy on arrival in New South Wales from overseas. Children as young as age six return to Australia unaccompanied and then forced to self-isolate in Special Health Accommodation for two weeks. Further, the quarantine facilities where the kids will be left in isolation also quarantined adults who are sick with mutant strains of the novel coronavirus.

The change in the public health orders for kids in quarantine was introduced on December 21. This was the tie when the new, highly contagious COVID-19 strain in the UK started to spread. So now, young children returning to NSW will have to be quarantined alone for two weeks.

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Exemptions to the Rule are Unlikely

A parent of a 9-year-old child applied for a special exemption, but NSW Health rejected the plea. NSW Health explained that unaccompanied minors entering hotel quarantine is their "default position" due to the mutations that make COVID-19 more transmissible, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Further, NSW Health revealed that having a guardian or parent enter quarantine with their child is their preference and ideal but is not always possible. NSW Health declined to disclose the number of applications for exemptions they received but revealed that each case is assessed to ensure the minor's safety and COVID-19 risks.

Upon rejection, the parent responded that the policy was "completely outrageous and inhumane." In the end, the mother decided to go into isolation with her child. She further noted that kids could have "incredibly stressful experiences" while left in self-isolation for two weeks.

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Extensive Pediatric Services for Kids in Quarantine

NSW Health revealed that Special Health Accommodation has extensive pediatric services, including giving the minor a room near the nurses' station for frequent monitoring. Health and nursing staff monitor the children's well-being. They are also said to provide the children with activities, including schoolwork.

Special Health Accommodation has over 600 apartments having about 750 rooms in total. They have designated floors for COVID-19 positive patients, separated from patients who test negative and those who are awaiting their results. 

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