A kidney disease patient who is a father of three children—two of whom suffer from mental retardation—spoke to Al Mezan about his family’s experience at a COVID-19 isolation center:
“Shortly after detection of coronavirus cases in the Gaza Strip on 24 August 2020, we found out that my sister-in-law tested positive for the virus. I felt so anxious as my wife attended a wedding with her just two days before. I was too worried about my family contracting the virus, especially my disabled children, and was hesitant to ask for a COVID test from the Epidemiology Department. But eventually, I called them and the test results were positive for all of us except for my eight-year-old disabled son. We were informed that we’re all going to be transferred to an isolation center except for my son who tested negative. I refused to leave him alone because he needs special care, so I wrote a letter to the Ministry of Health pledging to bear full responsibility for taking my son to the isolation center. The Ministry accepted and we were all transferred to the isolation center in Deir Al Balah on Thursday, 3 September 2020. The center consists of three contiguous caravans assembled to form a U-shaped structure, and in the middle, there is a small yard surrounded by a fence. We are eight individuals in the place, the five of us my wife’s three sisters.
We arrived at the center and there were only regular supplies like bedding and blankets. There were no sanitizers, hygiene supplies, headache relievers or vitamins, and they are still not adequately provided until now. When we keep asking them for medicine, they only bring us Paracetamol. As a kidney patient, I need special care which I don’t get here. I received one phone call from a doctor when I came to the center asking me about my health condition, and a doctor visited us once and asked about the symptoms we experience. As for food, it was not sufficient at the beginning but now we are provided with three daily meals. But I still have a problem with my disabled children who don’t feel full. I talked to the center’s administration and I informed them about the necessity to increase the number of meals for my children and they approved. Children in isolation centers also need toys to play with and have some fun.
I’m personally experiencing difficulties in the center, on one hand, I’m sick and I need regular treatment, and on the other hand, my children are hyperactive and suffer from mood disorders; the small space and the hot weather make them feel nervous all the time. Due to my sickness, I need to take a number of medicines everyday which I used to bring from Al Shifa Hospital’s pharmacy on monthly basis. I have to take the medicines because otherwise I’ll experience symptoms associated with my disease such as muscle spasms resulting in inability to stand or practice my life normally. During my stay at the center, I tried to contact the hospital’s free number to provide me with the medicine, but due to the current conditions, I couldn’t get it, and this puts me in danger. I’m calling on all duty-bearers to provide adequate conditions and all the important needs for quarantined children especially those with disabilities. I’m also calling for providing medicines for patients with chronic diseases who contracted COVID-19.”