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Meet Varsha Varma, Who Ferries Bodies Of COVID-19 Victims And Ensures Dignity For The Dead

Lucknow’s Versha Varma is providing free service to ferry and cremate victims of COVID-19 in Lucknow

After her friend’s death, Ms Varma faced a huge challenge to find an ambulance to take her friend’s body for cremation
Highlights
  • Ms Varma started the facility after she lost her close friend to COVID
  • Ms Varma is an author by profession
  • Ms Varma has helped over 1,500 people in Lucknow

New Delhi: When India was in the grip of the deadly second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, almost all hospitals and health care services across the country were stretched. People were struggling to arrange oxygen cylinders, medicines, hospital beds, and even access crematorium services. One such person was Lucknow’s, Versha Varma.

During the second wave, Ms Varma’s close friend was severely ill with COVID-19 and passed away in April. After her friend’s death, Ms Varma faced a huge challenge to find an ambulance to take her friend’s body for cremation.

Also Read: COVID Warriors: ‘Doctors On Wheels’ Address COVID-19 Healthcare Needs In Rural India

Ms Varma tells NDTV that she believes that most people faced similar problems during the second wave. She said,

I think the second wave did not spare anyone, every house has been impacted. When I lost my friend in Lucknow’s Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in April, I could not arrange an ambulance for her body as they were asking for too much money due to shortage.

Ms Varma said that she didn’t feel that she or anybody should be paying Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 for a distance of just 2-3 km from the Hospital to the nearest crematorium. That experience pushed her to take the mantle into her own hands and strive to help people caught in similar situations. She added,

After cremating my friend, I thought those who are dying are all our people. So, next day I hired a car and parked it at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital for people to use it for the same purpose.

That was when she realised that there are many people who needed the service, and just one van was not enough.

So we increased the number of vans. At the moment we have four vans that are covering all the big hospitals of Lucknow, Ms Varma said.

Also Read: Chennai Based Artist Designs ‘COVID-19 Vaccine Auto’ To Create Awareness About Vaccination

An author by profession, since then she has been tirelessly ferrying deceased COVID-19 patients and conducting their last rites for free.

There was a day when I was in my PPE kit, and I took a body to the cremation ground and I saw more than 100 bodies being cremated. The sight overwhelmed me, and I could not control my tears. That day I made myself stronger and decided that this is not the time to cry. This is the time to make sure people don’t suffer at least because of money or ambulance shortage.

When even family members of deceased COVID patients are fearful of performing the last rites of the dead, Ms Varma has been risking her life and making countless trips between hospitals and crematoriums to ensure dignity for the dead.

We get inspiration from Madam, if one lady can do so much, so should we. Our families also support us in this because of her dedication, a volunteer who is working with Ms Varma tells NDTV.

Ms Varma has helped more than 1,500 people in Lucknow till date.

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 (WaterSanitation 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 pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

World

24,50,12,529Cases
20,64,25,824Active
3,36,14,434Recovered
49,72,271Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 195 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 24,50,12,529 and 49,72,271 have died; 20,64,25,824 are active cases and 3,36,14,434 have recovered as on October 28, 2021 at 4:00 am.

India

3,42,31,809 16,156Cases
1,60,9891,672Active
3,36,14,434 17,095Recovered
4,56,386 733Deaths
In India, there are 3,42,31,809 confirmed cases including 4,56,386 deaths. The number of active cases is 1,60,989 and 3,36,14,434 have recovered as on October 28, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

66,06,536 1,485

23,096 3,500

64,43,342 4,947

1,40,098 38

Kerala

49,38,603 9,445

77,158 2,100

48,31,468 6,723

29,977 622

Karnataka

29,86,835 282

8,459 80

29,40,339 349

38,037 13

Tamil Nadu

26,98,493 1,075

12,288 252

26,50,145 1,315

36,060 12

Andhra Pradesh

20,64,854 567

4,777 122

20,45,713 437

14,364 8

Uttar Pradesh

17,10,114 13

100 6

16,87,115 7

22,899

West Bengal

15,89,042 976

7,973 124

15,61,973 837

19,096 15

Delhi

14,39,709 38

348 25

14,14,270 13

25,091

Odisha

10,39,818 549

4,392 213

10,27,108 334

8,318 2

Chhattisgarh

10,05,926 28

263 14

9,92,088 12

13,575 2

Rajasthan

9,54,411 4

20 0

9,45,437 4

8,954

Gujarat

8,26,481 17

173 2

8,16,220 15

10,088

Madhya Pradesh

7,92,804 20

108 9

7,82,172 10

10,524 1

Haryana

7,71,204 15

133 5

7,61,022 10

10,049

Bihar

7,26,073 5

41 1

7,16,371 4

9,661

Telangana

6,70,829 186

4,164 63

6,62,714 122

3,951 1

Assam

6,09,506 244

3,838 153

5,99,681 391

5,987 6

Punjab

6,02,289 38

246 20

5,85,487 16

16,556 2

Jharkhand

3,48,705 28

160 30

3,43,408 56

5,137 2

Uttarakhand

3,43,861 17

150 6

3,36,312 23

7,399

Jammu And Kashmir

3,31,865 70

838 16

3,26,596 86

4,431

Himachal Pradesh

2,23,406 261

1,972 211

2,17,693 48

3,741 2

Goa

1,77,969 23

454 29

1,74,152 51

3,363 1

Puducherry

1,27,846 40

443 10

1,25,546 50

1,857

Manipur

1,23,473 70

844 29

1,20,712 97

1,917 2

Mizoram

1,19,496 547

7,320 446

1,11,752 991

424 2

Tripura

84,438 15

123 1

83,499 14

816

Meghalaya

83,466 51

507 22

81,511 71

1,448 2

Chandigarh

65,331 5

29 2

64,482 3

820

Arunachal Pradesh

55,120 6

115 22

54,725 28

280

Sikkim

31,925 13

177 1

31,353 12

395

Nagaland

31,759 12

222 3

30,856 15

681

Ladakh

20,925 8

47 6

20,670 2

208

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,682 1

6 0

10,672 1

4

Lakshadweep

10,365

0 0

10,314

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,650 2

5 1

7,516 1

129

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