Letters to the Editor

Whom Should We Mourn For?

This devil of Coronavirus has caused unprecedented horror and destruction to human life. When even the first-world, rich countries, with their high standards of hygiene and healthcare, have failed in driving away this deadly enemy, it is definitely not an easy task to contain the spreading of this powerful virus in an impoverished country, where hygiene and health-care are sadly ignored. 

We are advised social distancing as a preventing measure. In most cities, there are slums where people live in crammed kholis, where they hardly have enough place for all to sleep! They share toilets with other families and children use open spaces. Is it possible for them to observe social distancing? 

Though this is not the time to play the blame-game, one can’t be blind to the Indian Government misusing taxpayers’ money to build gigantic statues at huge costs, blatantly neglecting the two most important areas – healthcare and education. The ignorant masses dwelling in such drastically unhygienic conditions are not in a position to protect themselves.

As loudspeakers are used by the candidates during elections, volunteers should address the slum dwellers making them aware, how important it is to follow certain rules of safety and precaution. Day after day, we helplessly learn about an many precious lives lost to this pandemic. The infected run helter-skelter in fear, spreading more virus and worsening their own condition. What’s worse – even patients suffering from other ailments are denied treatment and are having to bear the consequences at the cost of their life.

What should the BMC and the Government do to curb this pandemic? All delivery boys and others in essential services, should be provided with adequate 3-ply or N95 masks and should observe social distancing. All those treating or coming in contact with infected patients should not attend without complete PPE kit, to ensure their safety. Many global research institutions are working incessantly to develop a serum and medicine to prevent and cure the COVID19, but we haven’t yielded specific results yet. With even simple testing to detect the infection in short supply, we need to procure devices to detect the presence of the virus at the earliest. There is a device which tests around 2000/- samples in one shift and double the number to two. It has been donated to the JJ hospital and seems to work efficiently. We can get a few more such devices and test all Red zone inhabitants from congested slum areas. Only then will it be possible to segregate and treat the infected. Closed schools and colleges should be sanitized and used to treat infected patients. Each hot spot should be treated separately the same way. Though all affected may not be cured, we may be able to contain the rapid rise of spreading.

Though the lockdown is the right step, it has caused disaster especially amongst migrant workers, who came to cities for jobs, and are stranded with no source of income, no home, no money to feed their  families and desperately wanting to return. Their pleas of providing transport are ignored, leaving the only option to take a hazardous journey back home. This is an avoidable human tragedy where the Government has to act and make arrangements for their safe return. The ignorant masses find it difficult to complete the formalities and the government leaves them in a lurch. Realizing it is going to be worse in the rainy season, they embark on their long and hazardous journey with a hope in their hearts to reach home. 

It is a most unfortunate sight on TV channels – unending queues of migrant men, women and children, carrying their meagre belongings on their heads, toddlers on their shoulders, with pregnant women and sick babies, all trudging alone in the hot, sultry weather, sick and exhausted.. perhaps never to reach their destination. 

Should we mourn over the inevitable death of precious lives lost to this COVID19 devil or should we mourn for our guests who left their homes to serve us, caught unaware facing hunger, starvation, desperately wanting to return home and dying on the way, leaving a black stain for our ingratitude in the inability to protect them?

By Piroja Homi Jokhi

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