Toronto baby ends up in hospital, entire family contracts COVID-19 after daycare exposure

A Toronto mother whose entire family fell ill with COVID-19 is warning other parents that young children aren't immune to severe symptoms of the virus after her baby was hospitalized with an acute case.

“This was terrifying, absolutely terrifying,” Aviva Danielle, 33, told CTV News Toronto. “For any parent, particularly when you have a baby, it’s just such a small, helpless child that’s so sick.”

Aviva’s two young sons developed symptoms within days of being exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the infant room at their daycare, and soon her family of four was sick—and all tested positive.

Her three-year-old’s cold-like symptoms were relatively mild, but her one-year-old suffered a five-day fever, high heart rate, low blood pressure, and coughing fits—as his fingers turned blue. They rushed him to the Hospital for Sick Children, where he was admitted for three days.

“It’s terrifying to see your kid hooked up to an IV on his tiny little baby hand, oxygen monitor on his toe, and heart monitors checking his heart rate,” she said.

According to provincial numbers, there have been 2,222 cases of COVID-19 among children in licensed child-care facilities since the start of the pandemic, but nearly a quarter of those cases have been added in the past two weeks—113 of them were added Wednesday.

“There are more cases among kids in this wave than there were in the first and second,” said Dr. Fatima Kakkar, a paediatric infectious diseases consultant with the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Sainte-Justine in Montreal.

Dr. Kakkar said although the new variants are more transmissible, including among children, in most cases they are not making kids more sick that the original strain of the virus.

“The risk for having severe disease is really low,” said Dr. Kakkar. “The risk of catching it is there, and I think this is where there’s a shift from the way we thought about it early on, when we thought maybe kids are immune, maybe kids don’t get COVID-19. They do catch it, they do get it.”

Danielle ended up in the emergency department herself, both her and her husband struggling to breathe while taking care of their two little kids. She points out that they are both otherwise-healthy people in their 30s.

“Doing really simple things, we were short of breath. At some points it was easier for us to crawl than to walk,” she said.

“We were really desperate, and really struggling, and we were worried about how we were going to care for our kids. It’s every parent’s worry: you both get sick, and no one can care for your kids.”

The family is now out of hospital and recovering at home—and hopes no other parents have to endure the same ordeal.

“It’s so frightening to see your child so sick from something that there’s not really a treatment for,” she said.