Covid-19: Darjeeling nurses face ostracism, say health workers are least appreciated
North Bengal’s first Covid-19 positive, a woman from Kalimpong, had died at the NBMCH on March 30.Updated: Apr 30, 2020 15:26 IST
Anjali Rai and Pratika Pradhan had mixed feelings – whether to feel elated or sad – as they left a private nursing home in Siliguri on Tuesday evening after recovering from coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
Both Rai and Pradhan, who belong to Lebong and Tindharia in the Darjeeling hills, respectively, and work as nurses at the state-run North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH), had tested Covid-19 positive after attending the region’s first patient, who had contracted SARS-CoV-2 that causes the disease.
North Bengal’s first Covid-19 positive, a woman from Kalimpong, had died at the NBMCH on March 30.
Rai and Pradhan were admitted to the NBMCH on April 4 and 11, respectively, and later shifted to the private nursing home that the West Bengal government has earmarked for Covid-19 patients in Siliguri.
Later, Rai’s 22-month-old son, husband and mother also tested Covid-19 positive.
Though she and her mother have recovered, her child and husband are still undergoing treatment.
The two nurses said their sheer will power helped them face the ordeal and they were thankful to their colleagues for the support. However, they are hurt by people’s attitude towards Covid-19 patients.
“Doctors, nurses, hospital staff, ward boys and sweepers – all those who at the frontline in battling the pandemic – aren’t getting the appreciation they deserve,” Pradhan said.
“When I initially got the symptoms I requested many people in my neighbourhood to keep my son with them for a few days. But, they refused on the pretext that other residents might object,” Rai said.
Rai’s neighbours, however, welcomed her and her mother when they returned to their apartment, which is located close to the NBMCH. Pradhan, too, received flowers when she returned to her parents’ home at Tindharia, which is located 27 kilometres north of Siliguri. But her relatives said some local people at Darjeeling More in Siliguri pressured the owner of the house, where she lives as a tenant, not to let her in.
“She’d have loved to stay in her rented accommodation in Siliguri, if she’d have been allowed to go there,” said Anjana Sinchury, a Tindharia resident.
“When I tested Covid-19 positive, I felt very low. But I didn’t break down because I knew that I’d have to face the crisis,” Pradhan said.
Rai said had the NBMCH authorities were more cautious, her family members might not have been infected. Some of her colleagues, who didn’t wish to be identified, agreed with her assessment.