The deadly pandemic coronavirus has claimed 7,988 lives worldwide as of March 18 and people have taken to self-quarantine as a precautionary measure. But, this is not the same for IAS officer Nikunja Dhal as his call of duty comes before the grief of his father’s death. In a powerful story, Nikunja, Secretary of Health and Family Welfare Department in Odisha, had to return to his duty 24-hours after his father’s demise. Also Read - Despite Coronavirus Threat, UP to Hold Ram Navami Mela in Ayodhya; 10 Lakhs Pilgrims Expected

Dhal’s incredible story of putting work before the grief was lauded by the IAS Association on Twitter. Taking to the micro-blogging site, they wrote, “Leading from the front. Nikunja Dhal IAS, Pr Secy Health, Govt of Odisha showed exemplary courage when he was back in his office combating the epidemic Coronavirus within 24 hours of his father’s death. #Rolemodels #IndiaFightsCorona@PMOIndia.” (sic) Also Read - Deepika Padukone is at Her Productive Best Amid Coronavirus Outbreak, See Photo

Check out the tweet here:

The official handle of MyGovIndia called him the ‘unsung hero of the grim times’.

The IAS officer also received praises from the netizens. One user tweeted, “One day after demise of his father Mr. Nikunj Dhal, Principal Secretary, Health, Odisha is back to work to lead his team against.”

Another user commented, “I salute Nikunja Dhal, Secretary of Health and Family Welfare Department, #Bhubaneswar who was back to his office to combat the #COVID2019 within 24 hrs of his father’s death. This IAS officer could hv taken leave on personal grounds bt he didn’t.@IASassociation @SwetaSinghAT.” (sic)

Responding to the tweets, Dhal responded by saying, “I am humbled. Thank you Manoj.” (sic)

The state governments have temporarily shut down schools, colleges and places with large gatherings including cinema halls and swimming pools. Odisha Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik declared COVID-19 a ‘disaster’ for the state.