In a Covid Care Centre (CCC) in Mizoram’s Lawngtlai district a TikTok dance-off is underway. “When I first saw the video of the doctors dancing, I knew this wasn’t for them,” said an 18-year-old patient over the phone from the CCC, with a laugh, “But we took it up as a challenge.”
The doctor, 31-year-old Elsadai B Lalbersiama — who is the Medical Officer at the CCC — concedes. “Maybe at the end of this all, I will become a good dancer,” he said.
Two weeks back, when Lawngtlai district — which borders Bangladesh in the west and Myanmar in the south — reported its first Covid cases, Dr Lalbersiama formed a Whatsapp group for the medics and patients. “This was to convey information to them, set reminders about medicine, exercise etc,” said Dr Lalbersiama. All eight patients — who had returned to Mizoram from Delhi — were asymptomatic.
However, the group soon became a means to share not just somber medical instructions, but funny stickers and lately, TikTok dance videos. “We decided that we [the doctors] would dance using the app, post our videos and ask them to share theirs too,” said Dr Lalbersiama, 31. “Like a TikTok challenge.”
For more than a week now, the competition has been on. “We think of dance moves on the spot, record them and put it on our group,” said the 18-year-old patient, “And they do the same.”
Dr Zothanpari Chhakchhuak, who is the Superintendent of the Lawngtlai District Hospital which now functions as a CCC, said that all patients — except one 11-year-old child — were between the age group of 18-30. “They are young and energetic and we thought this was a good way to keep everyone engaged,” she said, adding that it was only possible because none of the cases were serious yet, and they were few in number.
Dr Lalbersiama and his medical team (one nurse and one supporting staff) record their video whenever they have the time. “It’s a way to provide stress relief as well as mental support — not just for them, but us too,” he said, “Before entering the CCC, little did I know I would be doing this.”
Mizoram, like the other Northeastern states, has reported a spurt in cases in the last month, as people from other states have returned home. Currently, the state has 133 active cases.
Apart from ‘TikTok therapy’, the medical team is also ensuring that the patients exercise regularly too. “We have given them skipping ropes, they do push-ups too,” said Dr Chhakchhuak.
“It’s a great initiative,” said Mizoram Health Secretary, H. Lalengmawia, “These people really need motivation and encouragement and activities like this can go a long way.”
The 18-year-old agrees. “It is a fun activity especially because Mizos are usually good at dancing, that is why we are enjoying this so much,” he said, adding they also do singing sessions and gymming sessions inside the ward. “Sometimes, we don’t even feel like we are patients — at least I forget I have Covid,” he said.
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