Ashok Mohan holds up a photo of his brother-in-law, Vijay Sharma, who died from complications due to COVID-19 on April 27, 2021. A 72-year-old retired bank manager, Sharma had been living in the city of Jabalpur, India when he was infected and died within 10 days of contracting the virus. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)

Ashok Mohan holds up a photo of his brother-in-law, Vijay Sharma, who died from complications due to COVID-19 on April 27, 2021. A 72-year-old retired bank manager, Sharma had been living in the city of Jabalpur, India when he was infected and died within 10 days of contracting the virus. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)

‘We don’t know what to do’: West Kelowna man shares COVID’s impact on family in India

India is currently seeing some of the world’s highest COVID-19 case counts, more than 200K have died

Ashok Mohan woke up on Tuesday, April 27, to the news that his brother-in-law had died from complications due to COVID-19.

Vijay Sharma, a 72-year-old retired bank manager, lived in Jabalpur, India when he was infected. He was taken to the hospital after experiencing difficulties breathing and died within 10 days of contracting the virus.

“They wouldn’t give his body to the family,” said Mohan, a West Kelowna Realtor who’s been living in the Okanagan since 1980. “The hospital arranged for the funeral and only two people were allowed to go watch the cremation.”

When Sharma’s son broke the news to the rest of the family, Mohan said everyone was devastated.

“The funeral was done yesterday while we were sleeping. I told him to be careful himself. You just don’t know,” he said.

India is currently in the midst of a COVID-19 crisis: the country set a record high of single-day cases on April 28 with 379,257 new cases, according to the World Health Organization. There are more than 18 million confirmed cases with 204,832 deaths.

“It has affected my mind,” he said. “I phone my friends around here (the Okanagan), and everybody is losing one or two relatives there (in India). You phone anybody — somebody has lost someone.”

He shared the story of a friend in Summerland whose sister and nephew living in India died on the same day due to COVID.

“Everybody I phone, they tell me about their family. Usually, we used to phone each other for condolences and stuff like that,” he said. “We’re all concerned, but we don’t know what to do.”

His fear now is with his brother, who lives in the city of Bhogal. He is currently relying on an oxygen cylinder as his lungs recover from the virus after becoming infected alongside his wife and their son.

“(My brother) sent me a message on WhatsApp saying he can’t talk. He said his lungs are infected and he’s having difficulty breathing,” said Mohan. “But, he said that all hospitals are overwhelmed, that you’re very, very lucky if you find a bed in a hospital.”

The worst part, he said, is that he can’t physically be there to support his family.

“You want to help them out, but how? We can only help with money, but money’s not everything,” he said.

He described feeling helpless and frustrated about the whole situation.

“You don’t know. You just leave everything to the will of God,” he said.

READ MORE: Central Okanagan School District staff to get COVID vaccine shot

READ MORE: COVID-19 cases continue downward trend in Central Okanagan


@aaron_hemens
aaron.hemens@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen offices in Penticton. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen showcases local government

The RDOS has put together a video as part of Local Government Awareness Week

North Okanagan business Hytec Kohler set up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Spallumcheen plant Friday, May 14. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
More than half of eligible adults in Interior Health vaccinated

Over 365,000 vaccine doses have been administered throughout the Interior Health region

New Border Bruins owner Dr. Mark Szynkaruk reps team colours with his young sons and wife Tracey. Photo courtesy of the Grand Forks Border Bruins
KIJHL’s Border Bruins sold to Grand Forks doctor

The league announced the sale Friday, May 14

Doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine are seen being prepared on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Decatur, Ga. Hundreds of children, ages 12 to 15, received the Pfizer vaccine at the DeKalb Pediatric Center, just days after it was approved for use within their age group. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)
One death, 60 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The death is connected to the outbreak at Spring Valley long-term care in Kelowna

A brown bear and two cubs were spotted near Killiney Beach May 10. (Michael Dick photo)
Warm spring brings bears out earlier in Okanagan

Residents urged to keep their garbage secure until the morning of pickup

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

A man and woman, both 33 and from Kelowna, were arrested on Postill Lake Forest Service Road in possession of two stolen vehicles Friday, May 14, 2021. (File photo)
Kelowna duo arrested with stolen vehicles after ‘brief’ bicycle getaway attempt

A man and a woman were arrested on a forest service road on numerous pending charges

The BC Conservation Officer Service (COS) handed out fines to two anglers on Shuswap Lake who were both casting more than one line, in violation of provincial regulations, Saturday, May 15, 2021. (COS photo)
Conservation officers snag Shuswap anglers for unlawful fishing

Two anglers were given $150 fines for casting two lines at once, against provincial regulations

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Lynda Saundry, born 1961, is charged with the murder of North Okanagan resident Barry Jones in July 2020. Saundry will appear in Vernon court May 17, 2021, to fix a date for a preliminary inquiry. (Facebook public photo)
North Okanagan murder suspect to be tried by judge and jury

Lynda Saundry is charged with the first-degree murder of Barry Jones in July 2020

Vernon Search and Rescue’s Legacy vessel is returning to Okanagan Lake for boating season, the society said Friday, May 14, 2021. (VSAR photo)
Vernon Search and Rescue vessel returns to Okanagan Lake

VSAR’s Legacy is back with a fresh coat of paint and some other upgrades

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

Most Read