Dubai: As the COVID-19 'tsunami' hits India in its second wave, expats living in the UAE are getting increasingly worried sick for their loved ones.
According to statistics revealed on Sunday, April 25, there are 243 new infections every minute in India. From despair to desperation, these expats are also feeling helpless and just do not know how to reach out to their family — especially aged parents at high risk back home. With borders shut between the two countries — they are all the more in a dilemma as to what to do to be available for their loved ones.
In fact, expats said they have been relying on external help from extended families, friends and young neighbours from their residential community.
Nandini Jijo, 31 who hails from Trivandrum, said her mother Ambika, 58, tested positive few days ago. Her father, Jaychandran 68, is bedridden and has been in the care of her mother since two years. “My sister’s children aged 10 and 7 are staying with my parents. With my mother contracting the virus, the entire family is at risk now. Especially my father is at high risk. His kidneys have failed and one leg has been amputed knee down. He has no memory either.”
“There has been no help coming to our house in India after the double mutant virus started spreading fast. My mother is the sole caretaker of my father. Plus she is also tending to my sister’s children. It is a tough situation at home. I feel so helpless. I wish I could rush and be there with my family.”
Nandini said she has had to rely with extended family to take her parents to the doctor.
Purti Simon 34, who has been a resident of UAE since 2016 and lives with her banker husband, Rohan Sachdev and son Nirvan, 2, said she is worried for her aged parents who live in Bengaluru. Her father, Pramod Victor Simon is 67, mother, 65 live alone in a gated community in Bangalore’s Ulsoor area. “My mother is highly diabetic. She had COVID-19 a month ago but thankfully recovered from it. My father has taken his first dose of vaccine — Covishield. We have stopped all helps coming in except the gardener. So basically they are living in a whole household without help. My parents have literally locked themselves at home. They are also scared from the delivery services and don’t trust their safety.”
My hands are tied. With the borders closing there is nothing much I can do but organise help for them from here.
Purti said the residential community where her parents live has some young neighbours who have been volunteering help to them. “But they too are worried that they do not want to pass on any infection to them as my father has a heart condition.”
What is she doing for her parents from here
“My hands are tied. With the borders closing there is nothing much I can do but organise help for them from here.” She said her friends drop off food and grocery sometimes. Their vaccinated help come and clean her parents’ home. “There is help on and off but it is still a very scary situation. Worse, there is no finish line to this and that is the scary part.”
Besides the physical discomfort, Nandini said there is so much of mental trauma her parents are going through. “They are watching their friends die of COVID-19. It is not easy to see all this. Basically my parents have locked themselves from the world and I fear about their mental health now.”
Baiju Babykutty, 37, working as a sales engineer is desperate to bring his mother Ponnamma, 62 to the UAE. “She lives alone with no help whatsoever. I will feel safe if she come to stay with me. The UAE is a safer place to live now than India.”
His mother, a retired headmistress for a government school in Rajasthan, is managing her life on her own. “Everyone is scared to visit each other at home in the current situation. No one is willing to risk contracting infection or passing it to another. I wish I could go and see her but such is our situation.”
He said he has been in touch with friends and relatives almost daily to see if they can keep an eye on his mother.
On Sunday, April 25, India reported a massive surge of 3.49 million new infections and became the first country to add 3 lakh cases to its tally in four days.
A growing number of countries are blocking flights from India as the country continues to report a record number of daily infections, hit hard by the second wave of the COVID-19 virus.
The UAE announced the suspension of all inbound flights for national and international carriers coming from India for a period of 10 days that can be extended effective April 25.
Kuwait’s directorate general of civil aviation said it had suspended all direct commercial flights coming from India, effective April 24 and until further notice.