On Monday evening, Kodagu Deputy Commissioner Annies Kanmani Joy was amused to receive WhatsApp videos and messages stating that she was being felicitated by the people of Kodagu for her role in helping manage the COVID-19 crisis in the district. Except, the woman in the video was not her. "That is not me in the video. Since yesterday (Monday), I am receiving endless messages about it but it's not me! I was told the video was shared on a Facebook page and then it was downloaded and circulated on WhatsApp," Annies told TNM.
The woman in the video is an employee of an e-commerce firm Safe Shop India in Hyderabad, Boom Live reported. The video was forwarded along with a message which read, "She was a nurse in Trivandrum Medical College. She completed IAS and posted as District Collector in Kodagu. Because of her nursing experience, she could help Kodagu District to totally come out of COVID. She is getting a special treat from the people of Kodagu."
Annies, a 35-year-old IAS officer in her first posting as a Deputy Commissioner in Kodagu, admits that there is some truth in the message. "I completed my nursing studies at the Medical College, Trivandrum in 2009 and I wrote the IAS exam and secured rank 65 in 2012. The details of our work to contain the spread of COVID-19 in our district is uploaded on our social media pages everyday," she says.
Before her posting as Kodagu DC, Annies worked as the Assistant Commissioner of Bidar, worked at the Karnaataka Bhavan and as the CEO, ZP of Tumakuru. She was posted as Kodagu DC in February 2019.
But Annies says that she was not felicitated by the public for her work amid the COVID-19 criss. "It is amusing to me to see the reaction because it is just the work we are doing and people are cooperating with the guidelines. People have love and respect towards me and people do appreciate the work here. But the person in that video is not me," she says.
In March, at the start of the outbreak of COVID-19 cases in Karnataka, Annies moved quickly to shut down tourist spots in Kodagu before the nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 25.
Kodagu, a hilly district with a sparse population, has recorded only 4720 COVID-19 cases and 61 related deaths since March. The district now has 306 active cases.
In the past month, the district has also hosted two major events - the Cauvery Theerthotsava and the Madikeri Dasara - with the district administration releasing strict guidelines for both events and restricting the entry of the public to a minimum.
"It is a team effort with the health and medical education department leading the response. We had two major festivals with guidelines followed by the public," Annies says.
On the day of the Theerthotsava, devotees were screened for temperature and symptoms and it was also ensured that those who were part of the festival celebration had tested negative for COVID-19.
In the one-and-half years in charge as Kodagu DC, Annies Joy has overseen a number of crisis situations including the devastating floods and landslides in the hilly district and the subsequent restrictions on commercialisation of agricultural land in Kodagu.
She is now gearing up to ensure that the district and its residents remain vigilant about the number of COVID-19 cases and ensure that tourist spots and homestays in the district are adhering to COVID-19 guidelines.