Get Vaccinated! Indian expats implore Mid North residents to immunise as crisis hits home

Workers at Clare’s multi-award winning restaurant, Indii of Clare, have been left reeling by India’s unfolding COVID-19 catastrophe.

And they’ve implored Mid North residents to get vaccinated against the virus as soon as possible.

With their home country reporting about 400,000 cases daily, owner Sabby Soodan, operations manager Indra Sinha and most of their kitchen staff have all been touched by the crisis.

“I am very stressed,” said Indra, who stopped accessing his social media accounts because he was finding the constant stream of condolence messages from friends and family too upsetting.

“During the first wave we would hear all the news about people being infected somewhere – but this time it has reached our homes. This time it is affecting everyone. And that is very scary.”

“We feel so helpless,” said Sabby, who has lost three members of his extended family and last week lost five old school friends in the space of 48 hours.

“And just last night I received a message saying yet another school friend had passed away,” Sabby said.

“He was only 45. It is hitting the under 50 population which is hard to understand, nobody knows why. Nobody anticipated this kind of situation. People can have money and they can have resources and they still can’t get what they need.”

Sabby picks up his phone and displays a text message from another school friend, who is now a doctor treating COVID-19 victims in Sabby’s home town of Nainatal.

“Difficult times friends,” Dr Gaurav Singhal writes. “Losing young population is really disheartening. Take care.”

Another friend’s message reads: “Seriously guys, bad situation. Struggling to arrange oxygen for my sister-in-law.”

Indra, whose home town is Lucknow, was called last week by his desperate sister, Danu, who still lives in India. She hoped Indra could phone some of his contacts in Lucknow to help them find oxygen for a friend, whose father was infected and deteriorating rapidly.

“I called five people,” he said. “Three of them were COVID-positive, two of them said they would try to help. But the next morning my sister messaged me to tell me the father had passed away.

“We are getting many desperate calls from people who need oxygen, plasma, hospital beds. Every city is under stress.

“A friend of mine is a beverage vendor and he lost both his parents on successive days. I read these types of messages and I’m not sure how to react.”

Sabby and Indra are taking some heart from reports many people are recovering from the virus in India but they know things will probably get worse before they get better.

They’re taking the opportunity to send a message to their fellow Mid North residents – get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“I have studied the vaccination issue closely in the past couple of weeks,” Indra said.

“And, believe me, my message to the community here is to get vaccinated. The virus is eventually going to come to all of us so we have to prepare our body to fight it. Get vaccinated and the sooner the better.”

“Don’t be complacent. Get vaccinated,” Sabby said.

“People became really complacent in India. The mindset there two months ago was ‘there is no COVID here’. Even the government was thinking like that. Just look to India to see what can happen if you get complacent.”