Not just 168 priests, 143 nuns too died of Covid across India
Thirty Malayalis among deceased nuns, most of them died since 2nd wave began in March
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Three days after TNIE reported that 168 Catholic priests have died of Covid during the two waves of the pandemic so far, it is learnt that 143 nuns have also lost their lives in the second virulent phase alone. 30 of these nuns were Malayalis associated either with schools or hospitals in Kerala and other states. It is also learnt that the majority of these nuns had initially tried self-medication, but by the time their situation aggravated, it was too late.
The exhaustive data was compiled by Fr Suresh Mathew, chief editor of ‘Indian Currents’, published by the Catholic Church from New Delhi for the past 24 years. The reports about the death of 168 priests, including three bishops, due to the pandemic had sent shock waves across the country. Initially, Fr Suresh had plans to prepare only the data of priests, but when the media fraternity asked him about the statistics on nuns, he didn’t have any. Subsequently, Fr Suresh was shocked to learn from the various congregations across the country about the alarming mortality rate among nuns since March this year. According to him, of the 168 priests and 143 nuns who died, 40 priests and 30 nuns were Malayalis.
“Twelve nuns belonging to a single congregation, Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, who have been doing yeoman service among the community, especially among leprosy patients, are no more. There were three major factors noticed among these nuns: they were asymptomatic, elderly or had comorbidities. Death is a reality we take for granted. We have never felt, seen or heard of such a large-scale deaths as we do now as Covid spreads,” Fr Suresh told TNIE.
However, Sr Jessy Kurien, a senior Malayali lawyer practising in the Supreme Court and a Covid-19 survivor herself, feels that the high rate of casualties among the nuns is due to them working in remote areas where good medical facilities are rare, their asymptomatic condition and delay in proper diagnosis. She was the first Catholic nun in India to hold a quasi-judiciary post as a member of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions and is the first member of her congregation to study law.
“I was diagnosed with Covid-19 on March 10 and became negative only on May 2. Except for slight phlegm, I was perfectly alright. But that was not the case of 12 of my colleagues. In fact, 33 lawyers practising in the Supreme Court were also in quarantine during the same period. To my utter horror, all of them died. God saved me from the brink of death,” said Sr Jessy, who belongs to the Sisters of St Anne’s Providence, Secunderabad.
With the alarming death rate among the priests and nuns coming to limelight, various congregations have taken steps to ensure that they attend webinars and talks by the medical fraternity to stave off the pandemic and combat it if one among them is infected.
WHY HIGH RATE?
Sr Jessy Kurien, a senior Malayali lawyer practising in SC, feels the high rate of casualties among nuns is due to them working in remote areas where good medical facilities are rare, their asymptomatic condition and delay in proper diagnosis