Girl catches Covid after 'fleeting hug' with unvaccinated adult

Shakyra has recovered and is now back at school. Photo: Supplied
Shakyra has recovered and is now back at school. Photo: Supplied
An 11-year-old girl got Covid-19 after "a fleeting hug" with an unvaccinated adult at a family dinner, leaving the family's lives disrupted for three weeks, her mother says.

Joanne Gates is now pleading with people who are not yet vaccinated to do so as her family's experience has shown just how infectious the Delta variant is.

The Pāpāmoa mother said her daughter Shakyra Bachop-Mauger got Covid-19 after "one simple hug between two unvaccinated people".

"That's all it took to pass the virus on. Our lives have been disrupted for three weeks now, but we're also proof of how those of us who are double-vaxxed can avoid Covid. It's incredible, really."

Shakyra has fully recovered and is back at Mount Maunganui Intermediate this week after spending 15 days at home self-isolating with her family.

She tested positive for Covid-19 on November 23, one week after attending a family member's birthday dinner at a Tauranga restaurant.

She became infected after briefly hugging a young man in their group who was unvaccinated and unknowingly carrying the virus.

Shakyra is enjoying her freedom again after spending 15 days in self-isolation with Covid-19....
Shakyra is enjoying her freedom again after spending 15 days in self-isolation with Covid-19. Photo: Supplied
The man's 6-year-old son also tested positive for Covid-19 a few days later.

Other family members at the dinner were double vaccinated and continued to test negative for Covid-19 while they waited in mandatory self-isolation.

Gates said the interaction at the birthday dinner was the catalyst for a chain of transmission which proved how vulnerable children under 12 were to the virus circulating in the Bay of Plenty.

"We're a family that does all the right things around Covid. Those of us eligible to get the vaccine are double vaccinated, we sign in using the Covid Tracer app wherever we go, we check the locations of interest and follow the guidance to self-isolate when we need to.

"But sadly, because someone unvaccinated was unknowingly infected and passed it into our family, we've suffered the consequences, and they are quite huge really.

"My plea is for everyone who can to trust the advice of health professionals, avoid misinformation online, and roll up your sleeves for the vulnerable people in our society, especially children who are not yet eligible for the vaccine."

Before Shakyra tested positive, Gates feared her getting Covid-19 because she had a compromising health condition.

She was born prematurely at 26 weeks old with pulmonary stenosis (congenital heart defect) and had her lungs constantly monitored during the first six months. She also has a small hole in her heart.

"She definitely had a rough start in life. During her first year, she would catch a cold at the drop of a hat.

"She's very active now, but I've been worried about how sick she would get with Covid-19."

Shakyra only experienced minor symptoms, including a runny nose and cough.

Shakyra and her mother Joanne are grateful for the support they've received from Shakyra's school...
Shakyra and her mother Joanne are grateful for the support they've received from Shakyra's school and her family GP at Dee St Medical Centre. Photo: Supplied
Gates, her partner and her 15-year-old daughter had to undergo further Covid testing and self-isolate for an additional 10 days as Shakyra's household contacts.

They will spend 24 days isolating at home. During that time, her oldest daughter had been unable to sit her NCEA exams and her partner's building work had also been impacted. Gates can work from home but said three weeks in isolation does take its toll.

"We miss the beach and can't wait to get out. But the care we've received from our GP has been great.

"He's made calls to us every day and made sure we had a pulse oximeter to measure Shakyra's oxygen levels as an extra precaution. It helps having someone you trust looking out for you."

Shakyra's family GP Dr Dan McIntosh said getting vaccinated was the best way to protect the most vulnerable people in our community.

"Shakyra's story illustrates how your vaccination can protect others and how getting tested early can prevent spread in your community.

"This family has done everything right and, as a result, have successfully negotiated Covid infection."

- Supplied content 

Bay of Plenty Times

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