A 34-year-old woman who was seven months pregnant and infected with COVID-19 has begged Indians to take the coronavirus outbreak seriously in a video message recorded nine days before she died.
Dimple Arora Chawla, a dentist from New Delhi, tested positive for the virus in early April.
She was one of hundreds of thousands of Indians to contract COVID-19 in recent weeks as the country grapples with a massive second wave, which is smashing daily infection tallies.
Six days into her illness, Dr Chawla could feel her symptoms worsen and picked up her phone to record a video for family and friends.
“Please wear [a] mask … for you and your dear one’s safety,” she said before stopping to cough.
Her three-year-old son can be heard playing in the background of the video as she cries over her fears for her unborn child.
She ended the video with a plea: “Please, please take care.”
Nine days after she recorded her message, both Dr Chawla and her baby were dead.
She went to the ‘heavens with our unborn child’
Her husband, Ravish Chawla, told local TV station NDTV that she had been admitted to hospital with worsening symptoms in late April.
He said the lack of guidelines and data about drugs or treatment for pregnant women infected with COVID-19 made his wife’s battle even more daunting.
“When her situation started to deteriorate a lot, her oxygen levels started to drop a lot,” he said.
A few days after she was admitted, Dr Chawla started to feel labour pains, her husband said.
An ultrasound showed that the baby had no heartbeat.
Mr Chawla said he did not tell his wife the baby had died after she endured an emergency caesarean because her symptoms were too severe.
“She said, ‘I want to see my baby, I want to see my baby,'” he said.
Dr Chawla died the next day.
“She was completely devoted to motherhood and went to [the] heavens with our unborn child,” Mr Chawla said.
“She was brave.”
On Mother’s Day, Mr Chawla decided to share his wife’s final message, posting it on Twitter where it has been retweeted thousands of times.
“Her untimely demise led me to post this message to the world, so [they] can know that you should not take COVID-19 so lightly,” he said.
Uncertainty remains over impact of new COVID-19 variant
The Chawla family’s tragedy is just one of many happening all over India.
There are nine states where more than one-in-four tests are coming back positive. And just yesterday the country recorded 350,000 new cases as well as 4,200 deaths.
India has now passed the grim milestone of 250,000 COVID-19 deaths.
Dr Harjit Singh Bhatti, who works on a coronavirus ward in New Delhi, said the positivity rate in the capital was a huge concern.
“Now our positivity rate is around 20 per cent, which shows we are testing very low and when we are testing very low this means we are missing lots of patients,” he said.
“When lots of patients are missed, they are obviously infecting more and more people, so we will not be able to control this virus, this type of virus which is mutating very fast, very contagious.”
Many Indian experts remain concerned about how variants are fuelling the surge, including the UK strain and India’s so-called double-mutant variant.
Both viruses have been found in large numbers across India and its neighbour Nepal, which is also facing a swell of infections.
Infectious disease expert Sameer Dixit said there was not enough research to understand how the Indian variant of the virus behaved.
“The UK has done a lot of research and it shows its [variant is] very transmissible, it’s very infectious but not necessarily more severe,” Dr Dixit said.
“But now with the Indian variant, what does it do? We don’t know. Even the Indians don’t know very well.”
The World Health Organization this week described the Indian strain as a “variant of global concern” after it was found in 44 countries.
Funeral pyres continue to burn in parking lots as cremators struggle to cope with the influx of COVID-19 victims, and this week, bodies washed up on the banks of the Ganges.
However, the federal government has so far refused to order a national lockdown, instead leaving it up to states and local areas to impose their own restrictions.
One senior medical body, the Indian Council of Medical Research, said any region with a test positivity rate above 10 per cent should be in lockdown for at least six to eight weeks.
But most states and regions tend to extend lockdowns for one to two weeks.
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Pregnant and dying from COVID-19, this mum picked up her phone and recorded a final plea to India have 1171 words, post on www.abc.net.au at May 13, 2021. This is cached page on Business News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.