COVID infected techie uses quiet hours in hospital to provide online help to other victims

M. A. Siraj

Bengaluru: Fertile minds make use of even the few moments of quietude that sickness can offer them. An IT entrepreneur from Bengaluru has proved that he could be helpful even while convalescing from COVID-19 on a hospital bed.

Ameen e Mudassar who heads Cigma Foundation, a counseling firm, was infected with COVID-19 on July 10, has come up with a website that brings together all the relevant information regarding the infection and ways to seek help, learn about treatment and deal with stress and distress the infection may cause.

Thirty eight-year-old Ameen is an engineering graduate and is a known name for valuable counseling he has provided to thousands of students in the State and beyond. His firm has been engaged by the State’s Minority Welfare Department to process applications for disbursal of minority scholarships to thousands of students from the communities. Onset of the pandemic saw him in action coordinating distribution of ration kits, food packets and directing cluster kitchens and distribution centre about poor households in distress. It was during these operations that he began to feel COVID-19 symptoms as he lost sense of taste and developed a bit of breathlessness. He had to be admitted in the Shifa Hospital which had created a Covid Care Centre at its premises near the Cantonment Railway Station.

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Ameen says the idea to create a website bringing together all the information resources on COVID-19 on a single platform which could be useful to all those who either are unaware of the help lines or frantically search for guidance, struck him while receiving treatment. Mercifully, he had been allowed to carry a laptop to his bed besides the smart phone. Consultation with his friends and staff members of his firm (Cigma Enterprises) on a hastily gathered WhatsApp group (named Emergency Response Team) met with encouraging response besides good wishes for his recovery. Next day saw him registering the www.covidhelplinebangalore.com. The content was sourced and curated with help of his staff and the website was launched on July 20.

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The website has proved a blessing in accessing information on availability of beds in all kinds of hospitals, medical colleges, ambulance services, government notifications, guidelines issued by the Government from time to time, free medical consultations and of late, even COVID-19 donation centres. The regularly updated website provides info on number of beds and occupancy position at a particular hour on COVID beds in 11 Government Hospitals in Bangalore; beds reserved for COVID patients in 85 private hospitals, 12 private medical colleges; 11 Government-designated COVID care centres; beds for COVID and non-COVID patients in 305 private hospitals; and, in eight community managed COVID care centres. Contacts and addresses of Government Fever Clinics in four zones of the city, 22 State Government empanelled COVID-19 Ayushman Bharat Arogya Centres; 22 Ambulance services in the city; 19 Rapid Covid Testing  centres in containment zones; 19 infographics on COVID-related symptoms and guidelines; COVID-related burials and cremation centres and guidelines for travelers. COVID-related FAQs and videographed stories of those who have recovered from the infection too have been uploaded. Two of them pertain to Ameen e Mudassar himself and film actress Sumalatha Ambareesh, Member of Parliament representing Mandya constituency and wife of late Kannada cine actor Ambareesh.

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Now that the pandemic-related information has spawned centres for oxygen cylinders and plasma donation, such contacts too have been uploaded. Poor patients can even appeal for financial assistance on the website.

The website has emerged as a single-window information guide for all those who are looking for guidance and help on the pandemic in the State. Writes Madhusudhana in the response section of the website: “Service to mankind is service God. I believe all of you have become God to the needy at the hours of crisis.” Yet another browser wrote on July 31: “Thank you so much for this website. It eases a lot of stress in finding the right information.”

Says Ameen e Mudassar: “Let us remember that we should do what we can, from where we are and with what we have.” 

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M.A. Siraj is a senior journalist based in Bengaluru

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