Coronavirus outbreak: Lockdown grounds two Malawi siblings in Mumbai

Updated: Apr 21, 2020, 07:21 IST | Arita Sarkar | Mumbai

In Mumbai for medical treatment for more than a month, the brothers have money only to survive until the first week of May

Nedson Jardson Ganala (in front) with his brother Ferish at their hotel in Kalina
Nedson Jardson Ganala (in front) with his brother Ferish at their hotel in Kalina

When Nedson Jardson Ganala, 47, brought his brother to Mumbai for eye surgery, he had had no idea that his 19-day-long trip would end up being extended indefinitely by a lockdown. After the government stopped air travel, Ganala and his brother, both citizens of Malawi in Southeast Africa, stay put in their Kalina hotel. Almost a month into the lockdown, the brothers are nearly out of money.

Ganala©s brother Ferish, 56, is a diabetic. They arrived in the city on March 9 to get Ferish treated at a well-known private suburban hospital.

"At the hospital, when the doctors tested my brother©s blood, they realised that his sugar level is too high. They gave him some medication and said that we would have to wait for a week for the sugar level to reduce," he said.

After a week, when they visited the hospital again, the hospital said the surgery can©t be done. "His sugar level had dropped but the doctors said that because of Coronavirus, they can©t operate and suggested that we quarantine ourselves in the hotel for 14 days," said Ganala.

However, the duo was due to fly home on March 27. Ganala and Ferish then approached Unique Eye Care Hospital in Chembur. "The doctors there helped us and the surgery took place on March 19. The surgery was successful and my brother has recovered. But we can no longer go back home now because of the lockdown," said Ganala.

Their flight was rescheduled thrice before being cancelled. With funds running out fast, they reached out to the Malawi Embassy which helped their families back home wire money. "We have been eating bread with a salad of tomatoes and cabbage. We have money to survive until the first week of May. We have no means to survive beyond that," Ganala said. Both brothers are married with children. Though they are in constant touch, their kin back home is worried.

Civic officials from the H West ward started sending the duo meals recently. "They are in an unfortunate situation and we have been sending food for them. However, we hope that some NGO or social worker can help them out with other supplies as well," said H V Javeed, executive engineer of the H West ward.

George Mkondiwa, the Malawi High Commissioner, said that embassy officials are in contact with the brothers.

"The problems are there and my country is also in the same situation. We are currently not organising any charter flights to send people back. We helped their family send money and if this continues, we will see how to provide relief," he said.

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