Pallavi Jain Govil
Pallavi Jain Govil

BHOPAL: The entire world was facing the fury of the coronavirus that consumed millions of lives. Amid the pandemic, many were leading troupes to battle against the virus on many fronts. Principal secretary Pallavi Jain Govil was one of them. Dauntless that she is, she never left the battle ground. One day, the virus struck her.

At that time, Pallavi had to fight on two fronts – her own illness and the criticism that came streaming from different corners. As the corona was casting a cruel glance over the state, she was the principal secretary of health department. She was leading the health department’s team from the front without caring about herself.

She fell ill. And that kicked up a controversy. Pallavi prescribed certain protocols about how to keep the virus at arm’s length. Those protocols are still followed. She wanted to be treated remaining in isolation at home. As media persons raised a hue and cry over her demand for home isolation, she had to be admitted to a hospital. Govil said those actually required to go to hospital should be sent there and the asymptomatic patients might stay at home. Nobody listened to her.

On April 4 last year, when she tested positive she was on pins and needles, though for while. Her staying indoors turned into a major issue. Govil says she wanted to file a defamation case but the advice of some friends kept her away from doing that. She says her husband Manoj Govil who, too, is a principal secretary had been with her in that hour of crisis. Her husband’s cool approach became her strength. He made all the arrangements within an hour as well as always cheered her up.

Govil is one of those officers who made all preliminary arrangements for fighting the virus. In January, when the number of patients had begun to shoot up in Italy, the state government started preparations for dealing with any emergency situation. She says those who had landed from abroad at Bhopal and Indore airports were asked to fill in a form.

As the number of patients increased in the country after March, an order was issued giving some special powers to chief medical and health officers and civil and surgeons. She says all resources were put together from March to fight the disease. Govil says a doctor in Washington Manoj Jain helped a lot. Some people in Indore introduced her to the doctor.

As the number of patients was rising in other parts of the country, it was clear that the virus would enter the state. She says on March 20, when the first case of corona was reported from Jabalpur, the real battle against corona began. Initially, there was a shortage of facilities for testing. Because of that, the test reports were coming late. She says arrangements were made for testing patients. Preparations for arranging PPE kits, masks and gloves began from March. There were problems in getting those items, since they were in demand. The higher-ups in the government gave whole-hearted support, so the problems did not crop up that way as was expected.

In the meantime, the meetings were held regularly. Doctors were also coming from Indore. Govil says, “It was from then that corona began to creep into the health department. Director of the department J Vijay Kumar was down was fever and tested positive for covid-19 on April 2.” She, too, tested positive and attended the Chief Minister’s video conference from home. Govil had to face a lot of difficulties. She, however, overcame them with the help of her friends. She says people have to learn how to live with corona. Wearing masks and sanitising hands should be part of daily life.

Besides that, everybody must learn how to honour Mother Nature. Govil says, “Nature returns to us what we give her. This is the right time to realise that!”

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