• Karla Grant with her mother Elizabeth. (Karla Grant)Source: Karla Grant
Karla Grant's mother Elizabeth lives at the aged care facility in Sydney, where four elderly residents have passed away after contracting coronavirus. Karla shares how she juggled reporting on this virus, while her mother is in a lockdown and facing the grave risk of infection.
Karla Grant

30 Mar 2020 - 2:49 PM  UPDATED 8 May 2020 - 1:21 PM

Does distance make the heart grow fonder? I have thought about this a lot lately.

I have been physically separated from my mother since the 1st of January, when we celebrated all that 2020 might bring to our lives. Neither of us imagined what was to come, that a pandemic would sweep the world, taking us with it. 

Holding hands would soon cease, hugs and kisses no longer allowed.  

Our separation hasn't been intentional. It is due to the coronavirus. Mum lives in an aged care complex where several people have been diagnosed and died after contracting the virus.

Just like millions of people around the world, my mum is now trapped in a 'lockdown', with all the best of intentions to protect her.

If Mum gets infected, she is at a very high risk of dying.  Seeing her family poses too great a risk to her life.

I am not permitted to visit her. The same applies to my three adult children Lowanna, John and Dylan.

Mum is precious to us. All her siblings have passed away; we are her only family and love her dearly. I tend to think we are more worried about the separation than she is. Over the phone Mum tells me she is fine and sends her love. 

At the same time, I have been out in the Redfern community investigating coronavirus or COVID-19, for a special Living Black episode that goes to air tonight.

The strain of juggling personal concerns, with the weight of information I learn on the job has been quite a challenge. On occasions the pressure has bought tears to my eyes.

This virus has halted life as we know it. It has touched all our lives, at home and work.

At my workplace, virtually everyone at NITV is either working on COVID-19 related content, or they are having to adjust 'business as usual' to accommodate COVID-19. 

With incredible support from my colleagues, I have carried on working as normally as I can muster under these strained circumstances. The toll has been emotionally and physically draining.  

My team and I have all discussed the risks we face of catching COVID-19 while filming and editing this Living Black episode.

We're all mindful, we are putting our lives at risk in order to produce this story. We all have families at home. 

Driving us on is the need to report on how the Indigenous community is being impacted by this killer virus. Our people and communities need to know the seriousness of the crisis and what precautions they need to take to keep themselves, their families and their Elders safe. 

I am forever grateful to my team for their dedication, for risking their lives to produce this important episode. 

I only hope this special episode on COVID-19 sheds light on the dangers of the virus, how it is impacting the world and most importantly, our own backyard.

And while the last week and a half has tested me, I smiled on the final day of shooting.

I was lucky enough to see my Mum and hear her say 'I love you Karla'.

It was from a distance, in line with social distancing of course, but it was the most moving and touching moment to see the smile on my Mum’s face, to talk to her and to know that she is doing okay.  

For me, distance does make the heart grow fonder.


Watch Living Black - Covid19 Special on SBS On Demand. 


If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor, don’t visit, or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.
If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.
Coronavirus symptoms can range from mild illness to pneumonia, according to the Federal Government's website, and can include a fever, coughing, sore throat, fatigue and shortness of breath.

Living Black can be viewed on on NITV (Ch.34) Monday 30 March at 8.30pm, Wednesday 1 April at 9:30pm and will be available On Demand after the broadcast.