‘Corona warrior’ lied to parents, travelled 1,500 km to help with COVID-19 testing

PTI, Apr 12, 2020, 4:36 PM IST

image for representation

New Delhi/Lucknow: One of the many corona warriors’ on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19, Ramakrishna literally dropped everything he was doing back home in Telangana and headed 1,500 km to Lucknow when he got a call from his guide requesting that he return to his post’ his laboratory.

The PhD scholar at the microbiology department of Lucknow’s King George Medical University was helping his parents farm their land in their village in Khammam district when his head of department Amita Jain phoned him. His help was needed in testing samples for the infection that was spreading rapidly.

And like a soldier called back in war-time, Ramakrishna said he immediately packed his bags and even lied to his parents, worried like everybody else about the spread of the infection.

In an hour he was ready.

“I initially told my parents I will be staying with my friends from the village who are studying in Hyderabad. Now, with the attention I got, they know I am working in Lucknow in this fight against coronavirus and they are fine with it,” the 29-year-old microbiologist told PTI.

It was March 21 and Ramakrishna set off immediately, telling his parents that he was going to Hyderabad to write his thesis at a friend’s place. His parents were not too convinced, unwilling to let their son make even the 270 km journey to the city but finally agreed.

He reached Hyderabad on March 22, the day of the Janta curfew’ when all routes to Lucknow or anywhere else were blocked. Before daybreak, in the early hours of March 23, he headed to the airport.

The going was not easy there either. Ramakrishna said he was stopped by police. However, when he explained his reason for heading to the airport, they helped him get there.

He caught a flight to Lucknow, much to the delight of his guide and the team at KGMU that is tirelessly working to test more and more samples each day.

Ramakrishna, who hit the public spotlight when Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra tweeted about him, insisted he was just doing his duty like all the others in the medical fraternity to fight this pandemic.

The PhD scholar had completed his project six months ago and returned to his village. He was working on his thesis and also helping his parents in farming.

Jain, head of department, microbiology, KGMU, said she had called four of her students for help. Two were in Lucknow and joined immediately, while Ramakrishna and one more person were away and immediately came to help.

Asked what she told Ramakrishna on the phone, Jain said, “I told him that we need him if he can help. He asked for an hour to convince his parents and within an hour, he said he is coming.”

“Their research scholars helping out in testing) commitment is akin to soldiers reporting to their battalions in times of war. This time soldiers wore masks,” Jain told PTI.

Ramakrishna’s contribution and commitment came into focus when Priyanka Gandhi sent him an appreciation letter last week and also tweeted about his selfless act.

Hailing the microbiologist, she said they are lakhs of such “soldiers” in India who should be honoured and encouraged.

Jain also appreciated the dedication of Ramakrishna and many others who have come to help at the KGMU’s microbiology department, saying all of them just came without once asking about remuneration or incentives.

“All of them will be paid, but they never asked about it, such is their commitment,” the head of the microbiology department said.

The virology laboratory at KGMU has been testing suspected samples for COVID-19 under the headship of Jain since February.

The laboratory’s technicians, virologists and scientists, attendants and research scholars have been working on a war footing 2X7 to deal with the pandemic.

Uttar Pradesh has reported 452 cases of coronavirus and five fatalities, according to Health Ministry data. The disease has infected more than 8,000 people and claimed at least 273 lives across the country.

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