Patna residents helping Covid-19 patients and senior citizens
Many Patna residents are helping Covid patients and others affected by the pandemic by meeting their essential needs.
Playback singer Panna Shrimali (40) has been providing free food to upto 500 Covid-19 patients and senior citizens daily in the state capital since mid-April, when the second wave of the disease led to a sharp rise in the number of infections, overwhelming the state’s health infrastructure.
“I accept food requests on WhatsApp number 8677095968. I just ask for Covid-19 test report to verify the authenticity of seekers. After that, we provide them food for 14 days without any cost,” Jagdeo Path resident Shrimali said, and added that senior citizens living alone were not asked to show Covid-19 report.
“We came across many instances where senior citizens were living alone as their children were settled in metro cities or aboard. They were solely dependent on domestic helpers, who have discontinued work due to Covid-19 resurgence. We provide medicines and dry ration to these elderly people,” he added.
Inspired by his father LP Ray, Shrimali ran a free food service last year as well during the Covid-induced nationwide lockdown. He has a cook and two delivery boys in his team. “I deliver food packets to nearby localities. We use safety gears like masks, gloves and hair caps for health safety.”
His initiative has helped city residents such as 60-year old Om Prakash Verma, a resident of Kadam Kuan, who was struggling after his domestic help left due to the surge in Covid-19 cases. “I survived on light and solid meals for five days. Meanwhile, I came to know about Shrimali ji through social media. By his courtesy, I am now getting two meals daily.”
Similarly, two sisters Anupama Kumari and Neelima too were feeding 50 patients on a daily basis. Anupama, mother of a 4-month-old infant, started the service last week for Covid-19 patients in need.
“My sister and I cook food at my home. As I have to take care of my baby, Neelima delivers food on her scooty. At times we get volunteers for distribution, but that is not often due to fear of infection, distant location and scorching heat,” said the 32-year-old Anupama.
The real value of what Anupama and her sister are doing is understood by residents like Lata, who lives near the Boring Canal Road. “I tested Covid-19 positive last week. I got to know about two sisters providing free food service through a friend. ...I got to eat solid food after five days as I was unable to cook due to weakness. I am grateful to both sisters for helping me in tough time.”
Anupama has decided not to spend money on birthdays or festival celebrations this year. I won’t even celebrate the first birthday of my new-born. I will use the money to serve needy people this year.”
Another resident Vidyabhushan Sharma has started a steam parlour-- designed using stove and pressure cooker-- for the underprivileged near Bhattacharya Road. Sharma recovered from Covid-19 last year.
“During my treatment, I realised the importance of steam inhalation for curbing the infection. The price of an electric steamer has increased to ₹1000, which is not affordable for daily wagers. Thus, I have set up a steam parlour to provide free service to them.”
Sushma Devi, 66, a city resident said she was helped by strangers instead of relatives after she tested positive along with her husband. “My son lives in Bangalore. I have several relatives in the city but none of them responded after our positive report. Instead, strangers have come up as life savers for us.”
However, no effort has yet been made by the district administration to bring together these individual efforts to pool in resources for greater efficiency and impact.
The administration on its part has started telemedicine services for Covid-19 patients.
“Those Covid-19 patients who are under home isolation can take medical advice on helpline number 0612-2508050 or 6287590552,” said Patna district magistrate (DM) Chandrashekhar Singh.
Singh said a separate team was set up to monitor private hospitals following complaints of irregularities in treatment of Covid-19 patients were received.
“We have also circulated Covid management handouts to reduce panic among residents. The booklet has details regarding drug uses, diet suggestion, correct method of measuring oxygen level and promoting exercises to increase oxygen level,” he added.