In an inspiring move, Kishori Pednekar, the mayor of Mumbai, put on a nurse's uniform and visited the Brihanmubmbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)-run BYL Nair Hospital on Monday morning to encourage all health workers who are risking their lives and fighting the COVID-19 outbreak.
Pednekar, a former nurse, interacted with the hospital's nursing staff and also asked if they are encountering any difficulties while dealing with the pandemic. She also said that serving those who have contracted COVID-19 is an opportunity and not an obligation.
A BMC official said that Pednekar ensured that social distancing norms were followed in the hospital during her visit.
"I've worked as a nurse and I'm acutely aware of the professional challenges. I put on my uniform to convey a message to the nursing fraternity that I'm one of their own. I interacted with the nursing staff to encourage them in their valiant fight against the pandemic. These are hard times. We need to stand by each other to fight this pandemic together," Pednekar told Hindustan Times.
Pednekar was a nurse before she entered politics and joined the Shiv Sena's women's wing in 1992. She initially worked for the Shiv Sena in Raigad and Sindhudurg districts in western Maharashtra and was later elected as a BMC councillor in 2002 and was re-elected twice - 2012 and 2017.
Pednekar had quarantined herself at her official residence in Byculla for two weeks after 53 Mumbai-based journalists tested positive for COVID-19 at a health camp organized by the BMC. She, however, tested negative for the virus.
"I stepped out after both my swab samples tested negative. I'm Mumbai's first citizen and I need to work for the Mumbaikars," she said.
"For those who really don't want to work – maybe about two or three out of a hundred can talk to their respective deans and matrons. But those who do work will be recognised and rewarded by the Mayor's office. I request the medical colleges, nursing college to give us names of the good second year and third year students," the mayor said.
Several second and third year students have been on quarantine duty and the Mayor believes that it's an opportunity for them to be on the front-line and tackle such a massive crisis.
Pednekar also shared a 2-minute long video message on Twitter urging Mumbaikars to cooperate with the municipal corporation and stay at home.
Her gesture was lauded by party leaders with many praising her decision of "duty before self."
This is our Hon. Mayor of Mumbai, @KishoriPednekar ji.She has been working 8am-2am every single day& now has donned her nurse uniform again to serve the city at Nair Hospital.— Priyanka Chaturvedi (@priyankac19) April 27, 2020
Seriously those who have been tweeting disparagingly about her should take lessons. Duty before self. pic.twitter.com/1hXx6AwGnJ
Maharashtra has reported 8,590 COVID-19 positive cases and 369 deaths, as per the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.