KRISHNAGIRI: Rajesh Kumar C last saw his first child when she was just ten days old. Since then the 29-year-old Block Medical Officer of Kelamangalam has been interacting with the baby, who was born on February 23, over a video call. Kumar is not alone. There are hundreds of frontline warriors — doctors, nurses, paramedical staff, and cleanliness workers — who are involved in the fight against the novel coronavirus.
Kumar, a resident of Shoolagiri town, who has been staying in Denkanikottai, roughly 32 km from his town, for the past three months, said, “I fed my child only once during this period. I avoid going back home.” He said that at times he cries thinking about being unable to meet his loved ones.
Currently, the baby is with her mother, who is also a government doctor but on a maternity leave, and her grandparents. Shoolagiri had recorded 18 positive cases.
In Kelamangalam block, there are five Primary Health Centres (PHC) and one Upgraded Primary Health Centre (UPHC), and Rajesh Kumar is in-charge of these centres. During this pandemic, 259 samples were collected and 697 people were quarantined in the tribal region.
Sharing his experience about the measures taken to combat the spread of the disease, Kumar said, “We have been regularly conducting awareness programmes in Denkanikottai town, in tribal regions and in other places. Tribals at Tholluvabetta in Bettamugilalam panchayat alleged that they have no access to potable water, and questioned us how they would wash their hands.”
Speaking about his weekly routine since the pandemic, Kumar said that he visits health centres every Monday to check the health of antenatal mothers. On Wednesdays, he inspects vaccination drive and on Fridays, he visits health nurses and enquires about their activities.
P Kalai Selvi (36) from Vellore, who serves as a staff nurse at Thadikkal PHC in Rathagiri panchayat, and K Gandhimathi (25) from Karaikudi, a village health nurse at the PHC have not gone home since the lockdown. Earlier, they were working at Kelamangalam PHC but since the outbreak, the duo was shifted to Thadikkal, which is a hilly region. They complained that due to lack of mobile network in the region they are unable to talk to their family members. Selvi used to go home on every weekend before the lockdown while Gandhimathi visited her home in February.