A worker at Nigambodh ghat, a doctor, a police officer, a nursing officer — they are among 25 Covid warriors who have been invited to the ‘At Home’ ceremony to be hosted by President Ram Nath Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhavan on August 15.
For the first time, the category of Covid warriors has been added to the guest list of dignitaries that includes ministers and top government officials. The Indian Express spoke to a few of them on how they helped keep the virus at bay:
Asha Sabharwal (35)
Nursing officer, GTB hospital
“If your discomfort is giving comfort to others, then it’s worth it,” said the nursing officer, on her experience while working in the Covid ward. With a six-year-old son at home, the only trouble she faced was to maintain distance from her family. “This was the biggest challenge but I managed it. I am still living in a different room,” she said.
Manish Madhukar (40)
Head constable, Dwarka
When Covid was at its peak in the city, Madhukar was posted at the Community Policing Cell, Dwarka, and worked for 90 days without an off. He led a team to start a community kitchen for the needy, cooked food himself, and arranged 800 quintals of dry ration and 1 lakh packets of cooked ration. He also installed 200 hand sanitiser machines in Dwarka. “My colleagues used to be scared to eat lunch with me, they thought I might have contracted the virus while serving the public. But I had a drive to help those in need so I didn’t worry too much,” he said.
Dr Ankesh Gupta (25)
Junior resident doctor, department of medicine, AIIMS
Dr Gupta received a call from the AIIMS director’s office Thursday evening, informing him that he has been invited to attend the ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan. “I am still taking in the news… It’s a huge honour,” said Dr Gupta, adding that he is yet to tell his family in Indore. He was among the healthcare workers posted at the ITBP camp in March, which housed students evacuated from Wuhan.
Sandeep Chauhan (30)
Deep Chand Bandhu Hospital
“Itni badi jagah pohoch gaye, kabhi socha he nahi tha,” said Chauhan, on receiving the invitation to attend the ‘At Home’ ceremony. His job involved collecting biomedical waste at the hospital, a Covid facility, but he never feared the virus. “If I’m afraid, the work won’t get done,” he said. Over the last four months, Chauhan said he took only two days off.
Seema Chaudhary (39)
Auxiliary Nurse Midwife, Shahdara district
Chaudhary has been actively involved in contact tracing of Covid-19 cases in her district over the last three months. She was at the forefront when Delhi started home isolation of patients. “The concept was new and, gradually, the guidelines became clear. I am glad we are being felicitated by the government. It’s a huge surprise for me… our hard work has paid off,” she said.
Amar Singh (39)
MCD worker, Nigambodh Ghat
When Singh, an MCD worker, was posted as a supervisor at Nigambodh Ghat four months ago, he was scared of contracting the virus. “Eventually I got over my fear,” he said. Through June, when Delhi saw the largest number of deaths, he devoted his energy into ensuring social distancing is maintained and that family members conducting last rites are clad in PPE. “Wearing PPE in summer with all the smoke around was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done… I am very grateful to the government for recognising my efforts,” he said.
Kriti Sharma (37)
Lab technician, Central District, Delhi Government
Sharma leads a team of four in the Central district in Delhi, and tests patients for Covid-19 at mobile vans and care centres. She said the invitation to join the President is a result of the hard work of her team. “People would tell me, ‘don’t work so hard, you will not get any award’. I have something to tell them now,” said Sharma.