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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Spallumcheen councillors (from left) Todd York, Gerry Popoff, Christine LeMaire, John Bakker, Joe Van Tienhoven and Andrew Casson join Mayor Christine Fraser (fourth from left) in helping to proclaim the township open for business with new signage off Highway 97A. (Township of Spallumcheen photo)
Being open for business paying dividends for Spallumcheen

Township wins provincial award, new business and building starts increase

Salmon Arm Silverbacks forward Mathieu Bourgault (13) tries unsuccessfully to deflect past West Kelowna goalie Johnny Derrick during the Warriors’ come-from-behind 7-6 BC Hockey Leaguje pod shootout victory Saturday, May 8, at Vernon’s Kal Tire Place. (Tami Quan Photography)
West Kelowna Warriors rally to edge Salmon Arm in shootout

Warriors overcome three significant deficits to post 7-6 BCHL pod win in Vernon; Silverbacks finish pod 9-7-2-2

John Pavelich’s 83rd birthday had an added surprise; members of Enderby City Council came by his residence to present him with a Lifetime Civic Merit award Saturday, May 8, 2021. (Contributed)
Enderby resident unwraps Lifetime Civic Merit award on 83rd birthday

John ‘JP’ Pavelich has been a pillar of volunteerism in Enderby since 1967

The Salmon Arm Pickleball Club would like to store its locker containing a defibrillator and a few other items at the pickleball courts in Klahani Park. (Photo contributed)
Talk of ‘new day’ follows pickleball club request for locker at Salmon Arm park

Council voices varying opinions about locker for defibrillator but agrees to get rec society’s view

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

The Oliver Fire Department had to put out a fire on their own training ground, and it wasn’t one they set. (Facebook)
Vehicles torched at Oliver Fire Department training grounds

This suspected arson comes after the cars were vandalized earlier and suspicious fire the night before

Tavis Stevenson, son of Pam and Bruce Stevenson, founders of The Book Shop on Main St, is the creator of the whimsical animal farm carts seen above The Book Shop. He also painted the book mural in the back alley behind the shop. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
The Book Shop in downtown Penticton is one of those rare gems

The Book Shop, like so many businesses, is wanting to turn the page to the end of this pandemic

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Most Read