With its roughly 1.32 billion inhabitants, India is the most populous country of the world. To date, 6.6 million people in India have been infected with COVID-19 and 100,000 of them have
How is the virus changing people’s lives – and especially those working for shipping line Hapag-Lloyd? In the company’s new “My life with COVID-19” series, H-L Communications Director Nils Haupt and his team take a look at the most affected countries to get first-hand information from the employees how their lives have changed since March 2020.
Angie Morales from Hapag-Lloyd in Ecuador kicked off the series. Here, an interview with Soniya Mokal (26) of Mumbai, India, follows.
She is Team Leader Customer Service Documentation, responsible for Area Germany & Central Europe of the shipping line.
NH: Soniya, how has COVID-19 changed your life?
SM: When the reports started about COVID-19 in China, I was totally fearless. China seemed so far away – and I was sure the virus would never come to India. But then suddenly, one of my relatives got severely ill and was taken to hospital. Only a few days later, my mom got a fever and her condition rapidly worsened. We rushed her to the hospital, but it was fully occupied. It was a real challenge to get her admitted. Shortly after admission, she tested positive and moved into the COVID-19 unit. Only a few hours later, the entire family – my father, my sisters and myself – tested positive as well.
What were your symptoms?
My father was coughing and short of breath, but my sisters and I were pretty fine. Due to the very strict rules in India, the family was separated. My father had to stay alone at home, whereas my sisters and I had to move into a government quarantine centre. You have to stay 10 days in a room in a quarantine centre on your own, and you are provided with food. There is a daily check-up, and they give you medication. But nobody is allowed to leave. If you are found outside the room, your quarantine will be extended by one week. So, you can easily imagine how heart-breaking the situation was: Mom in hospital, Dad alone at home, and we sisters isolated in a government quarantine centre.
But things got even worse…
Yes, meanwhile my cousin was feeling pretty sick and walked to the hospital. At first, he wasn‘t given oxygen or a ventilator. But after a few days, they had to put him on a ventilator. He died shortly thereafter. He was only 31 years old and recently married. The very sad thing was that nobody was allowed to attend his funeral. His body was cremated, and then he was buried without any family or friends present.
What kind of support did you receive?
We are Protestant Christians, and we are used to praying together. We also have a church prayer group, where we prayed a lot for all the people affected by COVID-19. This helped a lot emotionally. Additionally, there was a lot of support from family members. I also have to praise our Hapag-Lloyd Management in Mumbai. They supported me and my family the entire time. They took very good care of us emotionally and also assisted with the admission of my mom to the hospital.
How is the situation in Mumbai now?
The lockdown was really challenging. Theatres, cinemas, malls, public transport – everything was closed. You couldn’t even leave your house. Now, things are very, very slowly getting back to normal. Currently, we have 80,000-90,000 new infections every day in India. In my neighbourhood, each building has several infected people. It’s a nightmare, as the numbers are not really decreasing.
What have you learned from the COVID-19 crisis?
We should not take our blessings for granted and stay closely knitted with our loved ones and cherish every moment of togetherness. We should not take any pandemic lightly and take all precautions from the very beginning. Live and love life to the fullest.
Interview: Nils Haupt
Hapag-Lloyd's Nils Haupt has started a series of interviews in which shipping line employees talk about their jobs and the daily challenges they must master, like the C-19 threat.
The interviews are published in H-L’s in-house channels.
By courtesy of H-L’s communications department, we are authorized to publish the interviews on our online platform as well.
This way, they will be more widely distributed since they are worth to be read by a broad(er) audience, we believe. More interviews are to come.