A million Covid infections have hit India until today. And I, an ordinary citizen, have encountered four cases from among them.
A wife contracted a fever and gave it also to her husband, whom she'd married a month ago. The husband took pills that held down his fever and went to work for one, two, three days, foiling each time the temperature-checks at the factory gate. He also chose to be silent about feeling ill. In the meantime, his wife's condition got worse than her husband's, and the BBMP had to be notified. They arrived soon enough and took swabs from man and wife for testing.
The wife's report came the day after, and on its heels, a wailing ambulance arrived. They took the lady to the Sri Ravishankar Ashram, which has been converted to a Covid hospital. The next day the husband's report confirmed him positive as well, and, because he was alone at home now, the BBMP team asked him if he'd like to bed at home for treatment — with the house sealed, meanwhile. The young man chose the hospital, and they managed a room for him where his wife was already checked in. After a time he asked them if they'd accommodate him near his wife, and they gave him a room right by hers.
"The food is nice," he wrote on WhatsApp. "The room is clean. This is a good place." He sent pictures for proof, to colleagues who are worrying if he has exhaled the virus in his lungs onto them.
Indeed he has, to two others, one of them an entry-level worker, and the other his boss, a senior manager. The BBMP put the entry-level-chap (young, unmarried) in a hotel that's functioning now as a temporary hospital the same day they found him afflicted. (The speed at which they're locating the infected and fetching them has been impressive in all four cases.) As regards the manager, they looked around, allowed him to choose, and checked him into the old and respected Baptist Hospital — at 3:30 in the morning!
The HR Department of the company where these folks worked would've done all these things if these were regular times; but in this reign of the coronavirus, the public organisation managed the entire affair. By its efforts, an unworried foursome is reporting from its different locations a vitamin-rich diet, kind caring, and general satisfaction with the world.
The BBMP takes a lot of flak, and that government department goes to great lengths to deserve it. So I thought I must mention this recent experience that's in my notice. They've not faced a bigger challenge than this in their history, and what I've seen over the last two weeks points to a prompt, committed performance by them.
I've been visualising coming down with Covid as being in extremis, but — with these four, at least — that's not the case. The manager (he is in his forties) says he feels no disease at all. The others are exulting about how they're being looked after — young, and drawing lower incomes, they are surprised at how they're being cared for.
Not one of them is speaking of such a thing as dying.
Photo: A low-resolution WhatsApp image from a patient.