As politicians, administrators and civic agencies pass the buck over chikungunya outbreak, the infection has put the lives of those affected in Delhi-NCR on hold.
‘My daughter is missing important exams’
Mehak Agarwal (18), Class-12 student
She missed her half-yearly psychology examination because joint pain made it impossible for her to pick up a pen, let alone write a three-hour long test. The Class-12 student of Delhi Public School, Vasant Kunj, has another exam on Monday, which her mother doubts she will be able to write.
Last Wednesday, when Mehak developed joint pain followed by high fever, her mother, a doctor, immediately recognised the symptoms as that of chikungunya.
“On the second day of fever, we got a test done for dengue. Although she had all the classic chikungunya symptoms, I wanted to rule out dengue before giving her pain medicines that cause problems such as excessive bleeding in dengue cases,” said Dr Shehla Agarwal, a dermatologist at Sarvodaya Enclave in south Delhi. The region is one of the worst-hit in Delhi-NCR.
The joint pain is the biggest problem. “In dengue, if there are no complications, you recover in a week or so and can get on with your life. But in chikungunya, even though the fever subsided in four days, Mehak still has difficulty sitting up. She has problems sleeping even ten days later,” said Dr Agarwal.
Several teachers and students at Mehak’s school, also in south Delhi, are down with viral fever, dengue or chikungunya in the past month.
‘I can’t show my yoga class what to do’
Arun Kumar (43), yoga instructor
Kumar hasn’t been able to demonstrate postures to his class for three weeks now. ”It has been almost three weeks since I developed high fever along with severe body ache,” says Kumar, a resident of Vasundhara in Ghaziabad, from where the first chikungunya-related death in the NCR was reported.
“I missed classes for the first few days, but I still can’t do yoga because of the body ache. I just tell my students what to do, I can’t show them because of the pain,” says Kumar.
He says he has immense pain in his shoulders, left hand and right foot. “I have difficulty standing for over 30 minutes. It’s made simple tasks such as bathing or dressing up difficult,” he says.
Commuting between classes in Vaishali, Indirapuram, and Vasundhara was also difficult because he could not drive with his swollen feet. “I have just started driving my car two days ago,” he says.
‘I fear I will lose my job’
Sameem Khan (25), chef
Khan is worried he may lose his job as the unit chef at Pashcim Vihar’s Pind Baluchi because of his chikungunya bout. “I have been on leave for the past 10 days. As a chef, I have to be on my feet for most of the day. But the severe joint pains make it impossible for me to stand or move around,” he says.
His symptoms are so severe, he says, that opening his mouth to speak is also a difficult.
Like for most others, the infection started with high fever and then the pain set in. “The doctor said I had chikungunya and gave me paracetamol and some other painkillers. My fever subsided yesterday, but I still have terrible joint pain,” he says. “It goes down when I have medicines, but comes back as soon as the effect wears off,” he says.
“I am supposed to be present for the opening of a new branch of the restaurant, but how can I work in this condition? I fear I will lose my job. In fact, this month I did not even get my salary on the 7th of the month, which is when I’m usually paid,” he says.