‘My Granddaughter’s Drawings Help Beat Stress’: A Day in the Life of Kerala Covid-19 Warrior KK Shailaja

A file photo of Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja. (Image courtesy: kerala.gov.in)

A file photo of Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja. (Image courtesy: kerala.gov.in)

As Covid-19 cases in Kerala continue to mount, here’s a glimpse into the life and daily activities of frontline leader Health Minister K K Shailaja ‘Teacher’.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: August 23, 2020, 12:47 PM IST

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Kerala Health Minister K K Shailaja ‘Teacher’ is extremely strict with herself. As the pandemic rages on, the frontline leader follows Covid-19 norms to a T – wearing a mask even in her office, maintaining 2 metre distance in meetings and isolating herself properly whenever needed.

Her long day begins at 6 am, when she wakes up. During daily meetings with the health secretary and health director held in person, Shailaja practises social distancing. Meetings with the district authorities are conducted online after 7 pm and can go on till 10 pm, she says, in an interview with the Indian Express.

During such a busy schedule, sanitiser comes to her aid. The state Health Minister says she is very particular about applying hand sanitiser regularly, and prefers not to wear gloves. During meetings and at home, she uses a three-layered cloth mask, but while visiting a hospital, dons an N-95 instead.

Shailaja says it has been two months since she saw her family last. Earlier, she would go home to Kannur each Friday and return to Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday evening. The Health Minister tells IE that she avoids trains and flights and uses her official car for travelling. “I cannot afford to fall ill. I feel safe in the car,” she says.

She says that exposure to the screen has become a big issue for her, as she ends up spending an average of five hours before the screen daily. “On some days, my eyes ache. I have consulted a doctor and he has recommended eye drops,” she says.

Asked about how she keeps her mind off the pandemic, Shailaja says that it’s always on her mind. “Even when I go to sleep, I am worried about the number of deaths,” she says, adding that she wonders how the nation will get out of the situation.

However, her video calls with family keep her relaxed. After reaching her official residence after 10 pm, she gets the time to talk to her family at around 11 pm.

She says her husband, son, his wife and her two-year-old granddaughter wait for her call. “My granddaughter shows me her drawings on video calls. Talking to her helps me manage my stress,” the Health Minister confesses.

After that, she reads newspaper articles and editorials and at times, even watches YouTube. She ends her day at around 12.30-1 am, only for the cycle to begin again the next morning.

Once the pandemic passes, Shailaja says that she wants to visit all the health workers in Kerala’s 14 districts and hear their concerns in person. She also wants to focus on other pending health projects.

“And, I want to meet my husband and family. That will be the best rest for me,” she says.

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