Covid-19: Indian expats in UAE feel helpless as they lose loved ones back home

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent)/Dubai Filed on April 24, 2021

Many say they are crestfallen that they could not see them one last time.

Indian expats in the UAE are worried sick for their loved ones back home even as the 10-day flight suspension to and from India has made matters worse for them in case of an emergency.

With many states across India suffering serious shortage of hospital beds, uninterrupted oxygen supply, and the anti-viral drug Remdesivir, used in treating Covid-19 patients, UAE residents are glued to their phones, websites and news channels, awaiting news about their loved ones as the India descends into a tragedy of unprecedented proportions.

Many have spent the last week grieving their loss of their family members, saying they are crestfallen over the fact that they could not see them one last time.

Some others say they are at their wits end with all members of their family infected by the virus back home.

Dubai-based social activist and philanthropist Juhi Yasmeen Khan said she lost three members of her family to the deadly virus back home over the past three weeks,, including her 81-year-old father-in-law. Juhi said her life has been a living nightmare for nearly three weeks. “A total of 12 members of my family are sick. We have already lost three of our loved ones,” said Juhi.

“My father-in-law tested positive on April 10. He passed away in a matter of three days because he did not have easy access to a ventilator. My mother-in-law is sick as well, but we have not informed her that her husband has passed away. They’ve been married for 56 years. We still haven’t told her that he is no more,” she said.

Juhi, whose family reside in Sarita Vihar in Delhi, said, “When his condition started to deteriorate, we called an ambulance to shift him to a hospital. The ambulance did not know where to go because all the Covid-19 medical facilities are full.”

In a desperate move, Juhi’s in-laws were transferred to a small facility that was not well-equipped. A day before he passed, the family was told to move the patient to a hospital with a ventilator as they did not have one.

“Just as we found a hospital bed for him, with the intervention of a bureaucrat, he passed away. My husband couldn’t even travel for the funeral. We watched a live stream video of it,” said Juhi. Shortly after, Juhi’s uncle and aunt also passed away in Delhi. “My mother is undergoing treatment for cancer…My brother flew in from Canada to take care of her and he got sick soon after. Now, there is no one to take care of my mother,” she said.

Heartbreaking stories such as this are coming in from across India as the second wave of Covid wreaks havoc across India. Expatriate families in the UAE said they feel helpless as coronavirus cases and deaths surge back home. The number of cases across the country of around 1.3 billion rose overnight by 346,786, the Ministry of Health said, for a total of 16.6 million cases, including 189,544 deaths. Covid-19 deaths rose by 2,624 over the past 24 hours, the highest daily rate for the country so far. Crematoriums across Delhi said they were full up and asked grieving families to wait.

‘I feel helpless’

S.A, (name withheld at request), a UAE resident from Noida, Uttar Pradesh, told Khaleej Times, “My entire family back home is Covid-19 positive, that is, both my parents, my brother and his wife. While my father is hospitalised and is in the ICU, the rest of the family is at home. They all have symptoms like high fever and extreme fatigue.”

Breaking down in tears, S.A said, “My father was tested positive on April 9. He was having a fever 2-3 days before his test returned positive. Initially, the doctors said we can monitor the fever and saturation levels at home. My brother was giving him oxygen at home. However, when his X-ray report returned, it said he needs hospitalization.” Her 64-year-old father has been in a Noida hospital ICU for a week.

“My entire family is sick. They are extremely fatigued and finding it very hard to cope,” she said while breaking down in tears. “Moreover, the hospital administration has also said that if my father’s RT-PCR report returns negative, he will have to be discharged from the hospital as they need the beds. He still needs hospitalization; where will we take him,” she asked. SA, a mother to a small baby girl said travelling to India in the current circumstances is challenging.


Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88

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