As I sit here in Ward 31/32 of Sassoon Hospital, situated in Pune, another city in India turning out to be the hotspot for rising COVID-19 with the first reported case of community transmission, waiting for my senior to take the regular evening rounds, I get a very anxious call from my grandmother concerned about the happenings around. I did what I do my best, counselled her, calmed her down, and assured her that, “This too shall pass.” But, how sure was I?
I remember the first week of January 2020, Coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan had recently hit the news. I remember being very ignorant about it. “It’s just another virus,” I thought. “We will deal with it when the time comes,” I had thought. And then, over a span of 15 days, something went wrong. Something didn’t seem very right. But, my ignorance prevailed. Until one day, when our first case was finally here.
The child inside me was still confused with the events that followed. International lockdowns, quarantine zones, shutdowns, and all of a sudden things started taking a turn for the worse. COVID-19 was declared an ‘international pandemic’, something we had only read in books till now. And here we are, on the ground zero, ready to face the worse. This child was now scared.
With a population of 1.3 billion, and with the disease now entering from Phase-2 to Phase-3, we are already sitting on a ticking time-bomb.
As unfortunate as it can get, the healthcare system in India doesn’t have enough ICU beds, and only flattening the curve of transmission can help reduce the number of transmissions in phase-3, which is basically community transmission, which has already begun.
Having recently watched Chernobyl on Hotstar, the worsening of the pandemic sent chills down my spine. From Chernobyl to the Coronavirus, both have and will cost lives, of no clue how many. But what really amazes me is how something as small as a virus, which is not even visible to the naked eyes, is enough to cause havoc in our lives.
With the entire country under lockdown today, and also repeatedly being urged to stay indoors for at least 1-2 weeks, there is still a vast majority of educated and elite out there, still existing in sheer ignorance about the seriousness of the matter. Whether is it your defence mechanism to stay in denial or your absolute ignorance, it is high time to wake up to our dark realities.
We, as doctors, are right here to face the direct repercussions of every little, or massive, mistake being done on your part. Every single flight/train/bus that you board, when you are not supposed to, or when you are quarantined but you want to see the world, “because why not”, WILL cost lives.
You may just have the mild flu and be set free after a few weeks of observation, but, that won’t be the case with your loved ones, or someone else’s loved ones. For once, stop the mad rush, stop the madness, and think. Think!
Think of how you can affect or get affected and be the carrier in the cycle of transmission. And, if the impending doom finally comes, we will be there beside you to take care of you, till we can. With no proper availability of personal protective devices and unavailability of N-95 masks to those who are in most need of it, like the healthcare professionals, like your nurse, we don’t know how long the team would survive the disaster, how many will get through, how many would succumb midway.
We don’t know how the lack of ICU beds would take how many lives, and we don’t know how we would get over the guilt and the helplessness, we don’t know how many lives will be lost, and how many people will be successfully sent home, free of illness. We don’t know how we would be able to deal with the overwhelming emotions and stress and pressure and fear that is going to come our way in the following weeks.
— Prasar Bharati News Services (@PBNS_India) March 18, 2020
We don’t know what to tell our mothers when they sound all worried and anxious about us, we don’t know how many days will it take for us to get past this pandemic. We regret not knowing when we would next meet our family and loved ones, we don’t know if we and our fellows will get through this, safe and sound, but we assure you we are out here, looking for you, till we can.
In the times that lie ahead, we sincerely urge you to stay home, cherish your family time, stay healthy, eat healthily, wash your hands frequently with soap and water, avoid touching your face and eyes, wash clothes regularly, and if you are quarantined, please respect it and remain in isolation.
As for the vast majority of underprivileged, people living food-to-mouth, getting jobless and probably homeless with the badly hit economy and the lockdowns, I can only hope the government takes timely measures to save you all.
So what if they say, 2020 was the beginning of the end of the world. We are going to get through the war against COVID-19, and when we finally reach the shore, everything will be more beautiful and valuable than it had ever been. We will live up to fulfil what Abdul Kalamji had envisioned in India 2020.
Hoping for the welfare of the janta (people) out there, stay happy, stay indoors, do not panic and, well, listen to your doctor.