- Ms. Kalita was in the team that cared for the first COVID-19 case of Assam
- Mr. Deka contracted coronavirus in the line of duty
- After recovering from COVID-19, he donated 2 units of blood for plasma
New Delhi: Mintu Kalita, 39-year-old staff nurse in ICU ward at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) and her husband Mridul Deka, 45-year-old pharmacist at COVID Super Specialty Hospital, Guwahati, Assam have been fighting the COVID-19 pandemic from the frontline since March. For this corona warrior-couple, the past seven months of the pandemic have been life-changing, on both personal and professional front. They have hardly spent any quality time with their10-year-old daughter Ragini during these months, putting their duty first. Both work grueling 8-hour rotational shifts.
While sharing her experience with NDTV, Ms. Kalita, who was also a part of the team that cared for the first COVID-19 patient of Assam said that every month for seven days, she has duty in COVID ward after which for seven days, she is required to spend in institutional quarantine, in a guest house or a hotel. After a gap of one day, she works in general ICU (Intensive Care Unit) ward for the next 14 days. She said,
Every month for at least 14 days, I don’t get to see my family at all as I spend seven days in the hospital guest house when I am assigned COVID-19 duties and the next seven days I stay in self- quarantine in a hotel. It is only during the days I have duty in general ICU ward that I get to stay at home after the shift. But at home also, I stay in a room separate from my family in order to ensure that my daughter and my mother, who has been staying at our home and taking care of my daughter, stay safe.
Mr. Deka who was earlier working at GMCH, was shifted to the pharmacy of COVID Super Specialty Hospital in March. While working there, he contracted coronavirus and tested positive on July 1. He was admitted to the COVID hospital for 10 ten days. He tested negative on July 11 and after staying in quarantine for 14 days, he re-joined work and donated two units of his blood at the Plasma Bank of GMCH for plasma.
While talking about his experience of contracting COVID-19, treatment and post-recovery period, Mr. Deka said that since he was working in a high-risk setting, he was already mentally prepared for the worst. He said,
Since my wife has been working in the COVID-19 ward from the beginning of the pandemic in Assam, I was quite familiar with the protocols and standard operating procedures. On June 30, when I started experiencing body ache and fever, I knew that I was infected. That evening, I went to the hospital for my night shift along with my luggage, enough for at least ten days. I got myself tested that evening and was diagnosed with ‘symptomatic COVID-19’ the next day. The doctors admitted me immediately and started the treatment. Within 4-5 days, I started to recover. My fever had gone and body ache also started to recede. After testing negative on Day 11, I went home and utilised my 14-day quarantine period in rebuilding my strength by eating healthy and taking up some breathing exercises and light yoga.
For Mr. Deka and Ms. Kalita, a day at work starts right after reaching their respective hospitals. While Mr. Deka is required to wear an N-95 mask, a pair of gloves and a surgical cap, Ms. Kalita needs to put on the full set of personal protective equipment that includes a hazmat suit (hazardous materials suit) which is an impermeable body suit, face mask, face shield and a pair of goggles. She said that once the PPE is put on, she is not allowed to eat, drink or use the toilet during the eight-hour shift.
Since most days in a month, the couple work in different shifts, they barely get time to talk to each other at home because as one comes back from their shift, the other person is getting ready to go to work.
Mr. Deka and Ms. Kalita say that their families have been supportive right from the beginning. Ms. Kalita said,
I am very thankful to both our parents for encouraging us to do our duty diligently and supporting us by taking care of our daughter whenever required. Since past 5-6 months, my mother has been helping us by staying with our daughter for days at a stretch. She has put her household secondary in order to support us during these tough times.
The duo is also very proud of their daughter who, they say, ‘has grown up suddenly’ and supports them in her own way. Ms. Kalita said,
Ragini makes sure that every day before each of us reach home, there is hot water outside the house for us to wash ourselves and our belongings. She has been quite prompt and sincere in doing her homework and attending online classes too.
As the country continues to see a surge in cases, the couple urge people to not take the pandemic lightly. In their message to the readers, they said,
We would like to urge the public to go out only when necessary and when out, please follow social distancing strictly and wear mask. Wash your hands with soap and water frequently. Please try to keep yourself safe as much as possible and by following these basic precautions, you will be able to reduce our burden and contribute in the fight against the pandemic.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.