All the animals of Champakvan were scared of at the speed with which the corona pandemic was spreading.
One morning, when Meeku mouse went to the market to buy some vegetables, he saw that everyone in the market was following social distancing while shopping and that they all wore masks.
Meeku always bought his vegetables from Blacky bear’s shop. He stood in the queue like everybody else. When it was his turn he handed over the list and his bag to Blacky and said, “Blacky, here is my list, please weigh the vegetables for me.”
“Right away,” said Blacky.
Blacky was weighing the vegetables when suddenly Meeku coughed.
Blacky stopped immediately and asked, “Meeku, you are coughing! Are you sure you’re not infected by coronavirus?”
“No, I am absolutely fine. Something just irritated my throat and so I coughed,” said Meeku, embarrassed as everyone was looking at him accusingly.
“How is that possible? I am sure it is coronavirus and you are hiding it. I cannot give you vegetables. You go to the hospital immediately and get yourself checked,” said Blacky, rudely.
Jumpy monkey and Damru donkey who were buying vegetables from the next shop moved away quickly. “Run, Meeku is infected by coronavirus. We will get infected too if we stay here,” Jumpy screamed.
“Yes, you are right. It is not safe to stay here,” shouted Damru, trotting away.
Soon, the entire market knew about Meeku coughing and all the shopkeepers started shutting their shops and ran.
Meeku was not able to understand what was happening around him. He tried to stop everybody. “Don’t run away from me, please stay,” he pleaded. “Could they be right, am I really infected?” he thought to himself. He became very upset and sat there and started to cry.
Dola deer was also visiting the market at the same time to buy vegetables. When she heard the noise and saw Jumpy, Damru and Blacky running away, she stopped them and asked, “Why are you all running? What is the problem?”
“Dola, Meeku is infected with coronavirus and if we stay here we will get infected too,” said Jumpy, out of breath.
“If you want to save yourselves you better run too,” Damru added.
Dola tried to calm them and asked, “First you all stop running and tell me who told you that Meeku has coronavirus?”
“I saw Meeku coughing,” said Blacky.
“Yes, we also saw him coughing,” Jumpy and Damru said in a chorus.
“Coughing does not necessarily mean that one is infected by coronavirus and treating Meeku like this based on your suspicion is not right after all he is also a member of our family,” Dola explained.
“Dola, we don’t know all that but we are very scared that we may get infected too,” said Jumpy fearfully.
Dola consoled him and said, “Don’t be scared, Jumpy. Only a doctor can say if Meeku is infected or not. Let us take him to the hospital.”
They all agreed with Dola and took Meeku to the hospital.
Doctor Jumbo elephant screened them all as they reached the hospital. He asked them to sit on the chairs placed at a distance and asked them, “What is it? Why do you all look so scared?”
“Doctor, Meeku has been infected with coronavirus. Please admit him in your hospital,” said Jumpy.
“But how do you know that he has been infected?” asked Doctor Jumbo.
“Meeku was coughing that’s how we know,” Jumpy replied.
Dola then explained the situation to Doctor Jumbo, “Actually Doctor, everybody doubts that Meeku was coughing because he is infected and that is why we have brought him here to know for sure.”
“You did the right thing by bringing him here. Let me check for his symptoms,” and Doctor Jumbo took Meeku inside for a check-up.
After taking a swab test and a full examination Doctor Jumbo came out and said, “The swab test report will take a few days to come. But I have physically examined Meeku and he is not infected by coronavirus. There is no need to hospitalise him.”
“Then why was he coughing? I have heard that Corona patients cough,” asked Blacky.
“Coughing alone does not mean that one is infected. High fever, breathlessness, headaches, diarrhoea, loss of taste and smell are some of the other symptoms of this disease. Meeku always uses a mask and he regularly sanitizes his hands. Also, he has not been in contact with any corona patients in the last few days. He does not have any symptoms,” said the doctor.
“Why was Meeku coughing then?” Damru wanted to know.
“Meeku drank cold water before leaving for the market as it was really hot and he had ice cream last night and that’s why he was coughing. I have given him medicines for his sore throat,” he explained.
Jumpy, Blacky and Damru were all embarrassed after finding out the truth from the doctor.
They all apologised to Meeku, “We accused you without any reason and took you to be a coronavirus patient. We ran away from you and treated you badly, please forgive us.”
Jumpy turned to Dola and said, “Had it not been for you we would have never got him to the hospital and known the truth.”
“Don’t be scared of coronavirus, just be alert. It can happen to anybody but a little precaution can prevent us from this disease. Wearing a mask while going out, washing our hands regularly, maintaining social distancing, covering our nose and mouth while coughing or sneezing are some of the things that can prevent us from this disease. Also, contact a doctor in a nearby hospital if you notice any symptoms. Most importantly, do not treat a coronavirus patient badly, try to help them instead,” advised Doctor Jumbo.
Meeku thanked doctor Jumbo and said, “I am thankful to you for giving us so much information about coronavirus. For a moment even I was scared but now I am no longer scared.” He also thanked Dola for her help.