The district administration and the Balurghat Municipality jointly organised an event among Covid battle winners to celebrate the Raksha Bandhan festival in the Subarnatat Hall at the administration office here today.
It was a unique celebration as instead of the traditional ‘rakhi’ (sacred designer thread), the participants were given masks. Some persons who had earlier contracted the novel coronavirus, but were cured, were invited to the ceremony attended by District Magistrate Nikhil Nirmal and municipality administrator Biswaranjan Mukherjee.
The officials felicitated the persons with flower bouquets and special masks. “The aim of this programme was to spread awareness among the people on Covid and patients who have contracted the virus, as at a few places, Covid patients and their family members are being harassed mentally even after recovery,” an official said.
“As per instructions from the state government, we arranged for this programme with persons who have won the fight against Covid-19. Our aim is to send across a message to society that we should maintain social distance but not ignore humanity. After treatment, all Covid patients can lead a normal life. We should not ostracise them or their family members,” said the administrator of the municipality and Balurghat SDO, Biswaranjan Mukherjee.
Despite the awareness programmes through social media, and electronic and print media on Covid and recovered patients, people are avoiding cured people and their family members. “Even in town areas, people are using humiliating language on the patient and their family members,” an official said.
“Shopkeepers avoid us and refuse to sell anything. Even in the vegetable market, people avoid me and my family. My neighbours have stopped talking to us. I have completed 28 days after my last negative test, but they are still avoiding me,” said one resident of Balurghat municipality, and a participant at today’s programme.
One villager of Tapan and a priest by profession, said, “Me and my family were tested positive for the virus in the first week of June. Health workers supplied us with medicines at our doorstep and put up a poster at the gate. Now we have completed almost 28 days, but no one from the health department came for the second time. Now my neighbours are avoiding me and my family. Even my profession has been hit.”