Kitchener-Waterloo

As India's COVID-19 cases surge, Waterloo region relatives 'always thinking' of family

People in Ontario's Waterloo region with ties to India are anxiously awaiting updates from family as COVID-19 cases in the country surge by more than 300,000 a day.

New daily COVID-19 infections in India have topped 300,000 since April 21

Meenu Bakhru, of Wilmot Township in southwestern Ontario's Waterloo region, said it's hard to focus on day-to-day life while she awaits updates from her family in India, which has recorded more than 300,000 new COVID-19 cases a day since April 21. (Submitted by Meenu Bakhru)

People in Ontario's Waterloo region with ties to India spend their days anxiously awaiting updates from family as COVID-19 cases in the country surge by more than 300,000 a day.

"It's really hard to believe, and it's really hard to stay focused on our lives here," said Meenu Bakhru, who lives in Wilmot Township.  

"We are almost always thinking of them."

Bakhru moved to Canada about 20 years ago, but most of her family still lives in New Delhi. Six of them are fighting COVID-19, she said. 

Bakhru said it's been hard to focus on day-to-day life knowing what her family is going through.

"It does have a bearing on my mental health and well-being."

She stays in touch with her family through text messages and phone calls, though they aren't always well enough to talk.

"I'm always concerned about my family back home."

Raj Marwah of Waterloo has relatives in Punjab and New Delhi, and keeps in touch with them through WhatsApp and other social media platforms. (Submitted by Raj Marwah)

Waterloo's Raj Marwah has relatives in the state of Punjab and in New Delhi, and keeps in touch with them through WhatsApp and other social media platforms. In recent months, he said, several family members tested positive for COVID-19 and one of his brothers-in-law died.

Just last week, he learned one of the young women in his family who is also pregnant was infected.

"It's very depressing," he said. "It's fearful." 

In Kitchener, Dhaval Barot also relies on WhatsApp and other social media to stay updated on family. He said he knows more than two dozen people in India who've died of COVID-19, about six of them in the last month —mostly older relatives and elders who are part of his friends' families.

"It's a sad situation," said Barot. 

Canada to send $10M

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced plans to send $10 million to the Indian Red Cross, via the Canadian Red Cross. 

"This will support everything from ambulance services to buying more PPE locally," he said, referring to personal protective equipment. 

In a statement to CBC News, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada said Canadians who want to donate can contribute through the Red Cross.

WATCH | Trudeau on how Canada will help India: 

Trudeau is asked how Canada will help India during its COVID crisis.

5 months ago
2:36
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Procurement Minister Anita Anand spoke with reporters Tuesday during the regular pandemic briefing. 2:36

Back in Waterloo region, Marwah said it's been frustrating to see anti-mask rallies and people disobeying public health guidelines when the situation in India makes it clear just how dire the COVID-19 situation can become.

"Nobody is safe here until everybody is safe. Everybody has to work together."

Marwah urged people in Waterloo region to continue following public health guidelines, a message Barot and Bakhru echoed. 

"If you have any kind of symptoms, stay home and don't go out," said Barot. 

Bakhru noted India's recent spike in cases has been attributed to relaxed rules and people letting their guard down

She urged people to continue doing "their part."

"It's not one person or one country who can get over the virus; we all have to work together to get over it."

With files from Thomson Reuters

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