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ABC News
ABC News
By Margaret Paul

Parents in public housing lockdown separated from their baby

Caring for a premature baby in the special care nursery is challenging at the best of times — but after their flats went into hard lockdown, one set of parents had an especially difficult week.

The lockdown of nine public housing buildings in Melbourne left the couple unable to keep up their twice-daily visits to their two-month-old daughter Hanen.

"Everything is upside down, it's so stressful," mum Hanan Muhamed said.

Before the lockdown, the couple had been visiting baby Hanen at the Royal Women's Hospital and delivering breastmilk for her feeds.

But on Sunday morning, police told Hanan she was not allowed out of her North Melbourne apartment block.

"It was a shock, and she was in tears," her husband, Hany Hashiimeatiye, said.

"I'm not able to visit my daughter.

"It's part of your body, it's like you're missing something."

Anxious efforts to get milk delivered

Hany said police at the flats told the couple to contact the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to organise someone to collect and deliver the breastmilk for them.

But no-one came to collect it for several hours.

"The 11.30am feed has passed, the 2.30pm feed is passed," Hany said.

It wasn't until later that afternoon that help finally arrived.

Hany said they had similar problems finding someone to deliver the breastmilk over the following days, and the couple did not want their daughter to be given formula.

"I don't want somebody to tap me on the shoulder, I want the milk delivered," he said.

The couple also have a two-year-old son, Hattan, and Hany said while the toddler was doing alright in lockdown, the experience was affecting him.

"The kids, they don't speak but they feel the burden. I can see it in his eyes," Hany said.

Negative tests and eased lockdown pave way for reunions

On Wednesday, the family received the results of their COVID-19 tests. Because they were negative, Hanan was finally allowed to be escorted by an ambulance to visit her baby for 90 minutes.

But she had to wear protective gear, including a mask and gloves, so it was not the skin-to-skin reunion she had hoped for.

"I can't cuddle her or kiss her," she said.

The hospital's chief operating officer, Lisa Lynch, said workers had gone to great lengths to facilitate collections of the breastmilk, and give Hanan some time with the baby.

"This has not been easy and there have been many obstacles," she said.

"But we have been pleased to finally see progress and also to see the baby doing remarkably well."

Hany said he was over the moon when he learned his flats were coming out of hard lockdown from the TV news.

He was planning to visit his daughter as soon as he could.

"I'm really, really delighted," he said.

"These five days have felt like five years."

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