How did the joint family in Kolkata tackle their quarantine? Read more

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How did the joint family in Kolkata tackle their quarantine? Read more

A story of inspiration in these pandemic times

Wednesday, 19th August 2020

We may all claim to be well informed about all the coronavirus related updates and instructions pouring in from all directions ever since the pandemic began. But, when it does really strike, we would all perhaps find ourselves at our wit’s end!


Yes, that’s what happened to a 13 member joint family residing in North Kolkata in an old house aged 80 years.  The last two weeks, the family said, had been a learning experience for them and during that time, they got to learn two highly valuable lessons…First, despite having all info regarding COVID, you would always be unprepared when it does strike in reality. Second, during COVID, you would find for yourself a network of meaningful friends as well as compassionate relatives who are always eager to hand-hold you, be it in person or remotely. The family revealed that the sufferings they went through in the last fortnight was more mental suffering than physical suffering.


They further revealed that their tempestuous journey into an unknown, uncertain realm began when an elderly family member developed symptoms like mild fever and sore throat. Doctor advised going for a COVID test. Finding a lab for the same was pretty challenging. Calls to certified, private labs weren’t answered. However, at last a swab test was arranged through a senior private laboratory technician. In 48 hours the report arrived brushing aside all doubts and confirming the infection. By the time all that was happening, the COVID-19 positive elderly family member had started experiencing respiratory distress while the other members of the family were all panicking. The next struggle was around finding the ailing family member a CCU bed in a state governed facility. An ambulance from the state health department conveyed him to the hospital and the rest of the family members were asked to stay in quarantine.


Next day, their quarantine started at 5 pm. The doors of their house were fastened. Other family members who were at work returned home with huge stocks of vegetables, groceries, medicines etc to suffice for two weeks from then. The cooks, drivers and maids were told not to come for two weeks from then.


The next challenge encountered by the family was to get the other family members treated. After lots of cajoling and reasoning with the private labs, finally people encapsulated in PPE came to collect swabs and sanitize the house.


After this, the emails with the reports arrived. Three reports showed ‘positive’ while the rest were negative. Those who were positive had no symptoms and thus, were asked to stay in home isolation. This was indeed very difficult for the family. The house was not designed in a way that it could effectively isolate the negatives and the positives…and at that point the real task began!


To cope with the situation, several rounds of virtual meetings were conducted by the family members with their friends and relatives until a preventative sop was chalked out. Things like wearing facemask all the time, using separate washrooms segregated for the positives and the negatives , not touching anything in the common areas of the house were included  in the SOP. Friends and relatives supplied them with all the essentials for daily life. The ‘positives’ were allowed access to laptops, chargers, phones, books etc to keep them away from unnecessary anxiety and to keep them engaged. Cooking was done by the ‘negatives’ while the ‘positives’ enjoyed the privilege of being served with cooked food in disposable utensils. A WhatsApp group was created to keep each one in the family thoroughly updated about the health condition of the other and motivate each other. Amid all this one tension that was plaguing all was that no news was coming from the hospital where the elderly family member was admitted. Soon however news arrived that the elderly was doing really well… on the 10th day he was discharged from hospital with the advice of home isolation for another 7 days. This time however the family was not perturbed with the advice. After the end of the quarantine period the seals from their main door were removed. All boundaries and segregations inside the house disappeared and the entire family sat together for a grand lunch with happy faces as the ordeal had after all drawn to a close!



Source: Times of India

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