As Delhi reports a decline in the Covid-19 positive cases, it is time to send a fervent thank you to our doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers who have been working round the clock. The last two months have been excruciating not just in terms of the working hours but also the emotional toll of fighting a harrowing battle. Because of the infectious nature of the pandemic, it is the doctors and nurses who are often the ones to vigil at a dying patient’s bedside, and to make that last farewell video call with the family. It is heart-wrenching and it happened daily, sometimes more than once. How can anyone live through this ordeal without any emotional scars?

There is also the agony of having to refuse patients the right of a bed at the hospital. Most look to the doctors to provide beds and medicines. But, with the rise in infection and shortage of beds, this privilege was not in the doctors’ hands for a simple recommendation from them could not ensure a place in the hospital. Since this time the pandemic hit the rich and influential middle class, strings were pulled but for the first time since 1991, this class realised that neither money nor influence could ensure them a hospital bed. We have seen the heartbreaking stories of patients dying in the car parks of hospitals.

There are many heartbreaking moments and some lighter moments that the doctors can only shake their heads at in wonderment. For instance, the family WhatsApp groups, where the doctor is grilled by the entire family wanting to know about the treatment course. And of course, everyone has access to Google and therefore, a better option than the doctor himself/herself.

In ordinary times, the doctors would have indulged the patient’s family because every illness is bewildering and scary but not at a time when there are hundreds of SOS messages still pending on their whats app. It’s not humanly possible to reply to each and every google search. The situation within the hospital is no less reassuring. Even if you get a bed, do not expect a nurse or an attendant at your beck and call, there is simply not enough staff.

Some families have even hired attendants from private agencies to help the hospital staff, other families, if they have a covid recovered relative, wear a PPE kit and try and do what they can.

And now with the lockdown (in various regions, not just in Delhi) gradually opening, the one thing all doctors and medical staff are fervently hoping for is that the horror of the last two months is not forgotten. All it takes is one careless, maskless person to undo what has been achieved so far.

I have had doctors telling me about the number of weddings and Holi parties that their patients attended before winding up in the hospital wards; about the bride who was Covid positive and infected the entire wedding party; about the children who went for their Board practicals and came back and infected their parents.

One hopes that the political class has learnt its lesson and won’t go rushing around allowing rallies and Kumbh Melas.

Nevertheless, we as individuals, also have to do our bit. If not for ourselves then for the health workers, who have no safe bubble to isolate their families.

After a day’s round at the hospitals, they go back home to their parents and children. How many of these parents (who have not ventured out of their houses during the last year) but caught Covid right amid the safe spaces of their own homes. Think of them if not of yourselves.

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