Yahoo India Personality of the Year 2020: COVID Warriors

·Entertainment Editor
·6-min read
COVID warriors
COVID warriors

“The reason why I did this video was to create positivity amongst the people. I did it for my patients and for my colleagues (some of whom have even done 3-4 rounds of COVID duties). Since we have been called warriors, a warrior should have 2 things: courage and positivity. Dance is a way of expression I believe; through my dance I wanted to tell my fellow warriors, my patients and to all the people suffering from it that we will together fight against this trouble. We will fight, we will win. We are all in a state of darkness, but together we fight and reach the light at the end of the tunnel.”

~ Dr Arup Senapati

Dr Senapati, an ENT surgeon from Silchar Medical College, Assam, danced to Hrithik Roshan’s ‘Ghungroo’ dressed in a PPE kit for COVID-19 patients and the video had gone viral on social media.

While marking the end of this decade, we had no clue that we were going to be plunged into a pandemic that would change our worldview: a world that will be described as a pre-COVID and a post-COVID (whenever that happens) era.

For most of 2020, we have been living a life that feels more like the plot of a scary sci-fi movie. Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

Stepping out in masks, sanitising every surface we touch, maintaining arm’s length distance from friends and family if , happen to meet them at all. Hospitals stretched beyond capacity, the deceased being denied basic dignity after death, morgues full of bodies with few claimants, or kin of the victims being refused the right to say their final goodbyes. What nightmare could be worse?

At the frontline of these unprecedented times, we have seen heroes and role models emerge who have unwittingly been caught in the crossfire -- not just for a day or a week, but for months on end. These COVID warriors have not just risked their own lives but have had to avoid either time with family or risk them becoming collateral damage during the COVID crisis.

Doctors, nurses, journalists, cops and, sometimes, just ordinary people among us -- men and women who have shown unsurmountable courage during these testing times. There has been a sheer selfless display of grit and resilience in the face of an immensely taxing period.

Portrait of female healthcare worker on operating room at hospital
Portrait of female healthcare worker on operating room at hospital

Doctors and nurses have been at the forefront of this war against this pandemic, which shows no signs of abatement yet. Healthcare professionals are the first line of response and have found themselves on prolonged, seemingly endless, shifts ensuring the sick are attended to.

Dr Namitha Mariam John of Indira Gandhi Government Medical College says, “To be frank, the predominant feeling was frustration. It was my first time wearing those PPE kits and, believe me, it is one of the most uncomfortable feelings. It is excruciatingly hot and you sweat through each and every pore of your body. There's a continuous drain on one's energy and you wish you could just sit down and rest your legs, but you can't because you need to continuously monitor the patients. Some of us have even fainted out of exhaustion and dehydration.”

COVID-19 is a disease where the patients have to suffer in isolation: there have been numerous instances of doctors who have gone above and beyond the call of duty, holding the hands of the dying, for there’s no one else for them in their final moments.

Arsha Sebastian, Deputy Clinical Lead, UK, says, “I had to witness lots of people dying and have to be empathetic to their family who cannot even see their relatives for the last time. We had to face a tidal wave of patients infected with COVID-19 in the acute areas of the hospital.”

Doctors and patients are just not fighting an unknown mutating virus, they’re constantly dealing with the stress of how long before they can see their own family again. Add to it the anxiety that they could infect others. The sheer uncertainty of this disease takes a huge toll on their mental health. The best of us despair wondering when will this ordeal be over?

Dr Ashlesha Bagadia, Psychiatrist & Psychotherapist, says, “Despite the recognition that the stress levels in healthcare workers has gone up, there is still a huge stigma in seeking help. Not everyone is comfortable talking about their mental health. Many say they’re so busy just getting through their day, they barely have time to stop and think how they’re feeling. Many are facing burnout, unexplained physical symptoms and interpersonal conflicts, resulting from bottling up their emotions for too long.”

Mental health
Mental health

To all the citizens out there who could have stayed sheltered in the safety of their homes but chose to step out to help migrant workers, nodal officers and patients in isolation, you deserve to be celebrated.

Naveen, runs a trekking company in Bangalore and, during the lockdown, he managed the demand and food supply for migrant workers. With the help of other citizens, they managed to feed over 1.5 lakh people daily for almost two-and-a-half months.

Later, he has been coordinating with over 600 volunteers and helping in home-isolation, contact-tracing and quarantine.

Despite the good work, Naveen has received abuses from people desperate for help, but that hasn’t deterred him. He says, “I am pushing myself so that the efforts by the government reaches each and everyone in need. Access and availability are crucial and we have connected with NGOs and civilians to ensure that the needy get the help they deserve.”

Naveen Mallesh, Covid warrior.
Naveen Mallesh, Covid warrior.

Many of the volunteers have returned after their day of service to be sprayed with sanitisers before they enter their home, even after taking all the precautions possible, and they have to maintain distance from their families, just in case they are asymptomatic carriers.

While we have been able to speak to only a few COVID-19 warriors, Yahoo India’s Personality of the Year is a hat tip to everyone out there who has done her or his bit and some who continue to remain consistent in doing their good deed for society.

To all the healthcare professionals, police personnel, government officials, journalists, delivery boys, garbage collectors, irrespective of how significant or insignificant your contribution to the fight against this dreaded virus might seem, Yahoo India salutes YOU.

COVID-19 warriors, you are our superheroes because you stepped up and made your effort count during these unprecedented and frightening times.

“In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

~~ Anne Frank

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