- While Indians remain under a lockdown, essential workers are on their job
- Corona warriors follow isolation at home to protect their families
- Confirmed cases of COVID-19 on April 17 are 13,387: Union Health Ministry
New Delhi: One stands on guard outside the high-rise building in Noida saluting perhaps as the other drives out to look after his patients the two men, both tasked with fighting COVID-19 in their own special way, unable to even hug their children when they return home to strict isolation. Compelled by their jobs to step out every day, the security guard and the doctor are part of the army of corona warriors’ helping India battle the pandemic.
The coronavirus story is not about one person or two on opposite ends of the social spectrum. Many thousands of others, who necessarily have to physically interact with people outside, maintain strict distancing norms at home to ensure their families don’t get infected, even if they happen to.
It is tough, but what’s the alternative? For once, me and a doctor sahaab who stays in the building are facing the same problems. Neither he nor I can embrace our children, Rajesh, a security guard at a building in Noida in Uttar Pradesh’s Gautam Budh district that has reported at least 68 cases, told PTI.
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Rajesh, who stays with his two children, wife and mother in Sorkha village near the Delhi suburb where several buildings have been sealed, spends the better part of the day outdoors. He knows the area around is marked as dangerous but says he has no choice.
I try to do shifts that get me home late. When I go home, my wife keeps a bucket of water for me and I bathe outside. I also wash my own clothes and my dishes. I haven’t eaten with my family in days, he said.
What he misses the most is just touching his children.
When I returned from work, they would normally rush to embrace me. Now I make sure I return afterthey have slept, he said.
Coronavirus being the great equaliser, the stories of just doing their jobs at the cost of being quarantined’ from the ones they love the most even in these stressful days find echo everywhere.
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Nirmala, an anganwadi worker in Gurgaon, said she speaks to her children only on phone and sleeps on the terrace when she is back home to avoid any contact with them.
Raj Kumar, 27, who works as a ward boy in a Delhi hospital, has started living out of a store on the terrace of his home. The stairs have become his dining table because that’s where his wife keeps his food.
As soon as I am back from the hospital I take a shower and clean the bathroom. We ensure no one enters the bathroom for at least two hours after I have used it. I wash my clothes myself and the clothes are dried separately so they don’t touch my kids’ clothes, Kumar told PTI.
Pinku, a garbage collector in Noida, sleeps on a cot outside his house where his wife keeps everything he needs. For the past three years, Pinku’s day started at 5 am when he would start collecting garbage in Noida’s Sector 41.
But things have changed since the lockdown. Getting ready now takes more time as he needs to ensure he wears the mask and the gloves given to him properly.
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Everything has to be washed and sanitised, before and after. For the last week, ever since the area was declared a hotspot, he has been staying away from his family. They live in the same house but his utensils are kept separately.
Things became tougher after the area was declared a hotspot. I sleep outside. I miss my family, especially my wife, he said.
A doctor in east Delhi practices extreme caution too. She calls up her daughters before reaching home. They open the door and rush inside while their mother enters and heads for a bath before interacting with anyone.
Going out everyday, even if to do jobs necessary to ensure that people are safe in the lockdown period, comes with its own issues. A sanitation worker in Noida who did not want to be named said he is being treated like an outcast in his colony.
He said he misses his old life when he could hug his friends play with his children. Now he sleeps in the verandah and keeps as much distance as possible.
My two-year-old daughter does not understand why I am not playing with her or not even going near. She cries loudly so I try to be out of her sight as much as possible but it is very difficult when you live in a 350 sq ft house. I just go home to sleep and leave as early as possible to ensure they don’t fall sick because of me, he said.
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According to Bezwada Wilson, national convenor of the Safai Karmachari Andolan, sanitation workers have only been provided with masks.
When they go back home they do not interact with their family members out of scare that they might contract coronavirus. Lack of sanitation facilities for them is also a problem, he said.
A police constable who works in an area declared a hotspot ensures the area remains completely sealed. He wears masks and gloves and is careful while interacting with people living inside the colony.
I am particularly scared for my 85-year-old mother. I can be a carrier of the disease for her. I have now moved out and stay with my colleague who lives alone. But my mother needs me for providing her medicine and grocery and I am so worried, he said.
The death toll due to coronavirus rose to 437 and the number of cases to 13,387 in the country on Friday, according to the Union Health Ministry.
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