Tag Archives: #covidindia

Left to right: Kaveri Lalchand, India Mask Project, Siddharth Ramalingam

#MaskPodu: Bay Area High Schooler Joins Forces With Mask India Project

As COVID-19 makes its way down to the southern parts of India, there has been a silver lining. We have seen a surge of humanity that is lending a helping hand to India in this time of crisis.

One such initiative is by a 14-year-old school student Siddharth Ramalingam. He started The Bay Area Mask Care Project last year where he would make and sell cloth masks to raise funds for COVID relief.

“Bay Area Mask Care was formed to give back to the community in several ways during the pandemic. The COVID situation in India drove me to explore avenues to contribute to the Indian community where my close family and friends currently live,” says Ramalingam.

Parallelly in India, after the lockdown last year, when all businesses had to shut, Chennai-based designer Kaveri Lalchand had an idea to start making masks which had become mandatory.

“As we were told we need to wear masks all the time as the simplest and most effective way to protect ourselves, we started making masks. And one year down the line we need to be protected now more than ever. We decided to focus on the welfare of the country and the health and safety of our employees, friends and family, and the community at large. Our masks have been hugely popular, and this was one way we could think of to give back to the community,” says Lalchand.

So, she started The Mask India Project that manufactures and distributes masks free of cost. Kaveri and The Mask India Project have joined hands with the Bay Area Mask Care Project (USA) and with Chennai Volunteers and the #MaskPodu movements to give away thousands of masks to people of Chennai. Masks are also being distributed through the Suyam Charitable Trust to children in rural areas of Tamil Nadu.

When Ramalingam heard about this project, he stepped up to help raise funds for relief work in India by reaching out to his network of people in the USA. “I have always been impressed with Ms. Kaveri Lalchand’s contribution to society. When I heard about ‘The Mask India Project’, I decided that partnering with her would be the best way for me to serve the Indian community. I am excited and honored to be part of this initiative,” says Ramalingam.

The lockdown has also affected businesses and daily wage earners. Through this initiative, we have been able to provide eight tailors with machines to work from home. As a brand, we supply all the materials used in the mask free of cost fabrics, elastic, and threads. The tailors are paid for every mask they stitch. They have done a fantastic job with the uninterrupted supply,” says Lalchand.

The masks that are distributed as part of this project are 3-layer, reusable cloth masks. The top layer is linen and the inner two layers are cotton. “The mask is printed with our logo – the map of India with a heart at its center. The heart is to honor the memory of all those who have lost their lives due to COVID-19,” says Lalchand.

The Mask India Project also works with Chennai Volunteers, a voluntary organization started by Rinku Mecheri, that manages welfare and relief work in fields like gender equality, disaster relief, and uplifting the less fortunate. Lalchand has tied up with the Chennai Volunteers to distribute our masks to the people of Chennai.

The #MaskPodu movement was created to bring about awareness about the importance of wearing a mask and wearing it right (not under your nose or on your chin!) This was created by two responsible citizens of Chennai, Kishore Manohar, and Siddarth Ganeriwala. They have spread the message using a very catchy tune that has been written by Aravind-Shankar the musician who made the famous Chennai Super Kings song “Whistle Podu.

“We will be giving our masks to them for distribution amongst the people of Chennai. The song has also been made into Kannada and Malayalam with the Hindi version underway,” says Lalchand.

As the predicted third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to affect children the most, the Suyam Charitable Trust decided to raise money to provide masks to children across districts of Tamil Nadu. With vaccinations for children still a little further away, masking up is the only proven method to protect oneself.

This is also why Maya (16) and Eka (13) Kachibhatla, a sister and brother duo from Chennai wanted to contribute towards COVID relief in a more meaningful way and associated with Lalchand and her team. They started to raise an amount of Rs 30000 (USD 410), which they could surpass and now The Mask India Project is providing them and the Suyam trust with 7000 children’s masks. And to make the masks more fun, the masks are being printed with a heart or a star or a design of an elephant or some other cute design.

Since its inception, the team has started seeing a sustained increase in the demand for masks. “We have now committed 1000 masks for an entire village in Haryana. We have also tied up with the Apollo Shine Foundation to distribute masks to students from disadvantaged backgrounds and we hope to help more,” concludes Lalchand.

If you want to help contact the team on their Facebook page.


Bindu Gopal Rao is a freelance writer and photographer from Bangalore who likes taking the offbeat path when traveling. Birding and environment are her favorites and she documents her work on www.bindugopalrao.com.


 

Dr. Nagalli Answers All Your Questions About The Black Fungus Associated With COVID-19

More than 3.5 million people have died worldwide from COVID-19 infection and the numbers are only rising despite more than a year into this public health emergency, specifically in developing countries.

Although the clinical manifestations of this disease are well-established the long-term consequences are still evolving and are being studied. Infection with ‘Black’ fungus is one such complication that is increasingly seen in patients with COVID-19 infection, particularly in India and other Asian countries. ‘Black’ fungal infection, known as Mucormycosis or Zygomycosis in medical terminology, is an opportunistic infection. It is labeled as ‘black’ due to the physical appearance of dead tissue caused by this fungal infection.

As a physician, some of the common questions that I frequently encounter from my patients, family, and friends are on ‘Black’ fungus. Here, I attempt to answer the questions:

How is black fungus infection acquired?

The most common causative organisms of this illness belong to genera Rhizopus, Mucor, and Rhizomucor. They are found ubiquitously and are commonly acquired through the inhalation of spores. This is typically seen in patients with severe immunocompromised states. 

Who is likely to get black fungus/Mucormycosis?

Mucormycosis is not seen in all patients diagnosed with COVID-19 infection. But some of the underlying comorbidities can make patients more susceptible to acquire this infection. Patients with uncontrolled Diabetes Mellitus, cancers (particularly blood cancers), organ transplants, and those on immunosuppressive therapy are at increased risk of getting this fungal infection.

Why is black fungus increasingly seen in COVID-19 patients?

The relationship of COVID-19 infection with Mucormycosis is still unclear. But it is known that the fungi causing this infection thrive well in high glucose and acidic environments. It is important to remember that steroids, which are commonly prescribed in the treatment of COVID-19 pneumonia, increase patient blood sugar levels and suppress one’s immunity. This can put him/her at risk of acquiring Mucormycosis.

What symptoms to watch for?

Patients at risk should watch for symptoms such as nasal discharge often with fevers, facial pain, headaches, orbital pain or swelling, decreased / loss of vision, or double vision. Blood in cough or vomitus may also be seen. The development of any of these symptoms should prompt immediate evaluation by a physician.

Is there any treatment for Mucormycosis?

The fungi causing Mucormycosis spread rapidly and invade blood vessels resulting in the death of infected tissues. Patients diagnosed with Mucormycosis typically require hospitalization and initiation of antifungal therapy as soon as possible. This illness has a risk of significant morbidity and mortality. Patients require urgent surgical debridement to remove the dead and necrotic tissues. Hence consultations with ENT and or a maxillofacial surgeon are required. Ophthalmology consultation is also required if orbits are involved. 

What can be done to prevent this fungal infection?

Patients who are on chronic immunosuppressive therapy should consult physicians before initiating any new medications. Indiscriminate use of steroids, such as using steroids for patients with mild COVID-19 infection, should be avoided. Over-the-counter dispensing of steroids should be banned and strictly enforced by pharmacists. Patients who require steroids should have their blood sugars monitored and sugars need to be corrected, typically with insulin injections. In short, controlling blood sugars well mitigates the risk of Mucormycosis.


Dr. Shivaraj Nagalli is a board-certified Internal Medicine physician and a fellow of the American College of Physicians. He practices Hospital Medicine at the Shelby Baptist Medical Center in Alabaster, Alabama. 


 

India Still Needs You: Fremont High Schooler Helps India Breathe

India is in one of the largest humanitarian crises in history. The devastating headlines and heartbreaking pictures show that millions are suffering. People are dying on the street, frantically searching for hospitals and oxygen for their loved ones’. Crematoriums are overflowing with bodies. Over 500 doctors have sacrificed their lives to save others. My own grandfather, a dedicated orthopedic surgeon, succumbed to the virus treating his patients.

My grandfather treating patients days before he contracted the virus. (Image provided by Author)
My grandfather treating patients days before he contracted the virus. (Image provided by Author)

The entire healthcare system is collapsing. I am horrified at the tragic situation relayed by family members who are frontline professionals. I hear stories of casualties and devastation from my aunt  (who is a covid warrior awardee and treats hundreds of covid patients on a daily basis) and uncle (who does covid-related black fungus surgeries). My own grand-uncle passed away from the virus recently.

The second wave of COVID has been catastrophic and the current infrastructure is ill-equipped to handle the recent surge in cases. As of now, India has recorded 28.1 million official cases with over 330,000 deaths. These are only the cases that have been reported– the New York Times accounts for gross underreporting and estimates 540 million real cases. Every 5 minutes, someone dies because of COVID, unable to find oxygen gasping for breath.

To help those affected by the COVID crisis, we have partnered with Give India, the largest on-the-ground organization providing urgent relief resources. So far I’ve raised $26,600 to provide critical aid to those suffering in India.

The funds will be used for:

  • Oxygen. Hospitals’ oxygen demand is as high as 700% in some areas. Donations are being used to manufacture oxygen generators, ventilators, and cylinders.
  • Testing and Vaccination sites. Hospitals are erecting sites near hotspots such as airports to minimize the spread and obtain an accurate count of cases.
  • Setting up COVID Care Centers. Sick patients are turned away from overcrowded hospitals, forced to treat themselves without proper equipment. Funds are used to set up COVID Care and Isolation centers, fully equipped with quality care services to treat patients. 
  • Food. The World Bank has found that poverty in India has doubled during COVID, as families struggle to pay for treatment. Your donation will be used to provide meals and ration kits to communities struggling to make ends meet. Just $6 is enough to provide an entire week’s worth of rations for a family.

If you are in India:

  •     Please stay isolated and masked up. Follow all COVID protocols to protect others.

  •     Donate blood plasma if possible

  •     Get vaccinated immediately

  •     Do not purchase or sell overpriced medical supplies

  •     Return your empty oxygen cylinder so it can be refilled for someone else

  •     Help your family with continually checking up on family and their symptoms

  •     Report orphaned children to helplines, distribute meals to the homeless, feed stray animals

  •     Practice good hygiene and spread awareness

 If you are outside of India:

  •     DONATE. Know that anything that you give can save someone’s life: Donate Here

  •     Share resources on beds, medicines, plasma

  •     Raise awareness on recovery at home

  •     Volunteer at Covid Centers

  •     Help orphaned children get protection, sponsor their education

  •     Help organizations provide oxygen cylinders and concentrators

  •     Check on family & friends

We urge you to donate during this time of need. The suffering will not end unless we make the change. Any and every amount helps! I encourage you to join this COVID support group to interact with others and receive updates and help on your recovery journey: https://www.facebook.com/groups/covidrecoveryjourney/


Yuvraj Walia is a 9th grader at Mission San Jose High School. He is passionate about medicine and hopes to make a difference and save lives during the COVID crisis with this fundraiser.


Every 5 minutes, someone dies because of COVID in India, usually on the street, unable to find oxygen. Fremont High Schooler, Yuvraj Walia has partnered with GiveIndia to provide resources! Donate today @GiveIndia #covidinindia #covid19 #covidindia #covidinfo #indiacurrents