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Neighbours to maids: Unmindful of own safety, locals volunteer to help COVID positive families in Kashmir

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Attendants of COVID19 patients collecting Oxygen cylinders at a Government Hospital in Srinagar on Monday, April 26, 2021 (KM/Umar Ganie)

Srinagar: Forty-nine-year-old Abdul Rashid (name changed) of Baramulla tested positive for COVID-19 last week.  Advised home isolation with mild symptoms, his family took care of his food and medicines.

Barely a week after, four of his family members also tested positive, which made it difficult for them to take care of each other. The family is now being helped by a neighbour, which drops home-cooked food for pre-dawn and dinner meals.


“Since we already have mild symptoms, it was getting really difficult for us to manage home isolation. We could not go out to buy groceries and medicines and now our neighbour is helping us,” Rashid said.

Contrary to the first wave of COVID-19 last year, entire families are testing positive for coronavirus in the second wave.

Head, Infectious Diseases unit, SKIMS, Dr. Aijaz Nabi Koul said they often receive entire families infected with the virus.

“In fact, many members of a family are admitted to hospital in one go.  It happens quite often,” he said.

Home isolation is becoming difficult for many such families. Most of these people are dependent on NGOs, religious organizations, and relatives for medicines, groceries, and other essentials.

Out of the 140 areas as containment zones in Kashmir, there are many families where all the members have contracted the infection.

“We fear that our infection will transmit to the other members who are asymptomatic. It is very challenging to take care of each other when most of the members test positive,” Rashid said.

During the first wave of COVID last year, people were not initially allowed to isolate themselves at home (except for frontline workers). While the asymptomatic patients were shifted to COVID care centers or hostels or hotels, symptomatic patients were sent to hospital.

Many families who have entirely tested positive have hired maids to take care of their medicine and food. “We had no option other than hiring a maid to take care of our food, buy essentials and groceries from the market” said a patient from Dalgate, whose five family members have tested positive for COVID-19.

On Sunday Athrout, an NGO, which has been actively working during the pandemic, tweeted that they received multiple cases of whole families being infected with the virus.  The NGO is helping out such families by providing them oxygen cylinders, food, and medicines at their doorstep.