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In Photos: As India’s Crosses 100,000 COVID-19 Deaths, a Look at Some of the Lives Lost – The Wire Science


Featured image: Aliza Ali, 12, shows a picture on her phone of her father Javed Ali, a government doctor, who died due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as she poses for a photograph, in New Delhi, India, September 23, 2020. “He was taking all the precautions while continuously working on the frontline without any breaks until he got symptoms. I am proud of him; my children are proud of him. But we are having an extremely difficult time to cope with the present situation. Not a single day goes by when we don’t remember Javed and cry,” said Javed Ali’s wife, Hena Kausar, a doctor. Photo: Reuters/Danish Siddiqui

New Delhi: Eight months after the novel coronavirus arrived in India, the number of deaths from the disease is due to cross 100,000 imminently. Nearly 6.5 million people have been infected in total, second only to the number in the United States.

Reuters met and interviewed relatives of 30 people who died of the virus in India, from coastal Kerala on the country’s southern tip to the Himalayan region of Kashmir in the north.

The 30 victims were ordinary people from all walks of life, and included police officers and doctors on the frontlines of the fight against the virus.

In what is still a conservative and developing country, some of the relatives said they faced ostracism after their loved ones caught the virus. Others said they have suffered from depression and money troubles. All said more could have been done to save the people who died.

Lipika Ghosh Dastidar, 48, who works for an NGO, shows a picture on her phone of her mother-in-law Bela Ghosh Dastidar, 72, a housewife, who died due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as she poses for a photograph, in Kolkata, India, September 26, 2020. “My mother-in-law you can say, was my only support in my in-law’s house for the last 25 years. She was almost my mother. It is heart breaking that we took so much care of her, but she passed away in this pandemic. My brother-in-law and my husband’s younger brother who stay in London, couldn’t come for her last rites. We lost her and we are still in trauma,” said Dastidar. Photo: Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri
Humera Ulfat, 42, a housewife, shows a picture on her phone of her father Mohammad Ashraf Baba, a shopkeeper, who died due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as she poses for a photograph, in Srinagar, September 26, 2020. “It pains me whenever I recall my dad lying on a hospital bed helplessly. Doctors did not fulfil their duty the way that they’re supposed to. They never came close to my father to examine him. Eventually he died. Authorities should educate not only the public, but healthcare professionals as well. My father would have been alive, as we speak, had he been given proper medical aid in the hospital. His absence is something that nobody can fill. My life won’t be like before, never,” said Ulfat. Photo: Reuters/Sanna Irshad Mattoo
Mir Umer Altaf, 31, a sales head in a pharmaceutical company, shows a picture on his phone of his grandmother Syeeda Begum, who died due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as he poses for a photograph, in Srinagar, September 25, 2020. “My grandmother had attended a wedding ceremony and after a week she started showing symptoms of the disease. As I deal with healthcare, I got her tested and she was positive but asymptomatic. A few days later, she had problems breathing and we managed to put her on oxygen at home, but then her condition worsened and she suddenly passed away. She was a pious and she died a Martyr, as according to our belief, whoever dies due to a virus in a pandemic is a martyr,” said Altaf. Photo: Reuters/Sanna Irshad Mattoo
Mohd Rehan, holds a phone with the photograph of his brother Mohd. Fareed, 62, a businessman, who died due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in New Delhi, India, September 24, 2020. “He had no symptoms and was laughing when the first test results came. He thought there was some mistake. His health suddenly deteriorated next day and he died a day after. It was unbelievable. He was a very jolly person” said his brother Mohd Rehan, a businessman. Photo: Reuters/Danish Siddiqui

Life after

Javed Ali, a 42-year-old doctor in India’s capital New Delhi, died in July. His wife, Hena Kausar, also a doctor and now the sole carer for their two children, said she doesn’t know what she will do without him.

“Our whole life has changed,” she said. “I still want to be a doctor (but) I have to choose between my job and kids.”

Nineteen-year-old student Fardeen Khan was orphaned after his mother Noor Jahan died in June. His father had died in 2018.

“I have no financial support now,” he said. “I have no job.”

Some relatives said they found the reaction from authorities and neighbours after their bereavements difficult to bear.

Sunita Patil’s husband Vivek, a 46-year-old music teacher, died suddenly at home in Mumbai before a bed at a local hospital became available. The next morning, she said, municipal workers came to the house shouting for them to come outside to be taken to a quarantine centre.

“They were not sensitive to the fact that there has been a death in the family just a day back, and we are in mourning,” she said.

Dixit Vinodbhai Patel, 19, a student, shows a picture on his phone of his father Vinodbhai Maganbhai Patel, 54, a shopkeeper, who died due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as he poses for a photograph, in Ahmedabad, India, September 25, 2020. “After my father’s death, all responsibility is on my head as my father was the only earning member in our family. Presently I try to fulfil all family requirements, I try to be a good son, a loving brother. My college is closed at the movement, but when it starts, I will quit my studies to take care of my family,” Dixit said. Photo: Reuters/Amit Dave
Renu Verma, 49, a housewife, shows a picture on her phone of her husband Rajkumar Verma, 54, a driver, who died due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as she poses for a photograph, in New Delhi, India, September 26, 2020. “In the evening my husband started feeling unwell,” said Renu. “I called a neighbour and got an ambulance and took him to a hospital which is right across the road,” she added. “He stopped responding in the ambulance as the hospital was not ready to take him inside, saying that there is no bed,” she said. “He was taken inside the hospital on a stretcher only after I went to a doctor and told the medics that my husband is not responding.” Photo: Reuters/Anushree Fadnavis
Nadeem Akhtar, a social worker, shows a picture on his phone of his sister Shabana Ahmed, 52, an architect, who died due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as he poses for a photograph, in New Delhi, India, September 24, 2020.”What really upsets me more than the healthcare system was the behaviour of society,” Akhtar said. “My sister’s neighbourhood boycotted her family. There was no emotional or moral support even after her death. Society failed us.” Photo: Reuters/Danish Siddiqui

Nadeem Akhtar’s sister Shabana Ahmed, a 52-year-old architect, died in New Delhi in April.

“What really upsets me more than the healthcare system was the behaviour of society,” he said.

“My sister’s neighbourhood boycotted her family. There was no emotional or moral support even after her death. Society failed us.”

Chances missed

India’s rudimentary healthcare system has at times struggled to cope with the huge number of coronavirus cases.

Many of the victims’ relatives said there were missed opportunities to cure the infected.

Jamal Khan, a 41-year-old farmer, developed a fever in August in the Bijnor district of Uttar Pradesh state, India‘s most populous.

His brother, Asim, said local doctors failed to realise he was COVID-positive. It was only when he was transferred to Delhi, ten days after he first became ill, that he was diagnosed.

By then, his lungs were badly damaged, and he died soon after, according to Asim.

“If he would have been diagnosed on time in his own native place, he would have surely survived,” Asim said.

Jigeshaben Sanket Surti, 34, a housewife, shows a picture on her phone of her father Dineshbhai Gangaram Khanvanshi, 64, a retired banker, who died due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as she poses for a photograph, in Ahmedabad, India, September 27, 2020. “I have so many memories of my father, we’re sitting together one day and talking for hours. Next day we admitted him in to the hospital,” Surti said. Photo: Reuters/Amit Dave
Yogesh Kanojia, 36, a businessman, shows a picture on his phone of his father Balbir Mulchand Kanojia, 57, also a businessman, who died due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as he poses for a photograph, in Ahmedabad, India, September 25, 2020. “In our country there is almost no healthcare system, it is zero percent, the government advises people to drink warm water and take Ayurvedic medicine and live at your own risk,” Kanojia said. Photo: Reuters/Amit Dave

Rekha Khandait’s 58-year-old husband Jayant is one of more than 200 police officers who died from the virus in the western state of Maharashtra alone. She was one of several people who said a lack of oxygen contributed to the death.

“I can’t believe that six months have passed,” she said. “I still haven’t told our son yet about his death.”

Tilak Raj, a 38-year-old software engineer, said when his mother Krishna Devi was hospitalised, there was no oxygen in the ambulance. When they arrived at the hospital, the cylinder that was provided was empty in five minutes.

“If we had a better health system, my mother would have survived,” he said.

(Reuters)



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