Winnipeg family calls out ‘irresponsible’ behaviour after 8-year-old contracts COVID-19

By | August 13, 2020

A Winnipeg family says they’re heartbroken they have to self-isolate from each other after their eight-year-old daughter tested positive for COVID-19 on the weekend.

Jenn Martens says her daughter tested positive after visiting the child’s father in Steinbach, Man. He tested positive and shortly after, public health officials were calling Martens and advising her to be tested and to take proper precautions.

In order to stem the spread of the virus, Martens’ partner, Omar Kinnarath brought his son Hamza to a hotel in the city where they’ll wait to be tested for the novel coronavirus.

“I was shocked and overwhelmed,” said Martens.

“Giving [my kids] the news was very heartbreaking. My daughter was quite upset and confused and unsure of what this meant for her and my son was crying and actually said, ‘Mommy I don’t want my sister to die.'”

Martens and her two kids have to all be isolated from one another in their house. Martens and her son both tested negative, but health officials are asking them to stay separated until her daughter is no longer symptomatic so they don’t continue to pass it among each other.

“She thinks she’s diseased… It’s kind of hard for her to take right now,” Kinnarath said of his step-daughter.

While they’re separated, Martens says she’ll have to spend her days sanitizing, making food to bring to her kids and staying in her room as much as possible.

Meanwhile, Omar and Hamza are stuck in the hotel unable to do much of anything.

“It’s upended all our lives,” Kinnarath said.

Part of the reason the family is shocked and upset is because they say they’ve taken every precaution to protect themselves from the virus. Others aren’t taking the virus as seriously, they say.

“I wear a mask and a social distance and I limit exposure, so I never really actually thought that it would directly affect me,” Martens said. 

“People out there are still not taking it seriously and I have done my part.”

She says so few people wear masks in public indoor places and it worries her.

A protest was held in July calling on Manitoba to stay away from mandatory mask requirements that are in place in other provinces. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

Kinnarath adds that people who believe COVID-19 is a conspiracy and claim that public health orders take away their freedom don’t know what this is like.

“I can’t see any anything more taking away my freedom than being locked in here for two weeks just because some people are irresponsible and can’t follow the rules,” he said.

Martens and Kinnarath hope people will learn from their story and start wearing masks to public places, physical distancing, washing their hands and staying home when they’re sick.

“This is real,” Kinnarath said. “People have to stop thinking so selfishly … this is a community health emergency.”

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