With healthcare workers across the globe working to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, we look at some of the Tamils on the frontlines of the battle to save lives.
From nurses and doctors to our paramedics and porters, every single contribution is invaluable. And alongside thousands of other workers, the Tamil community has been actively involved in efforts to fight the pandemic.
We will be highlighting stories around the world from those who are working to keep us all safe.
Jannikka Navaratnam, Registered Nurse, Toronto
"Not all superheros wear capes" - a motivation for our frontline workers, EVS, health care professionals and all other essential workers who are out there risking their lives day in and day out. I wish we had the superpower to be invincible and get rid of this horrible virus. But just like every other human, we are vulnerable. We wake up every morning not knowing what the day will hold, who's life we are saving or who's life was lost to the battle. But that's what we do as nurses. We keep our heads up high to give strength to those who need it and we put a smile on our faces, masking the fear that doesn't leave the pits of our stomachs.
As Canadians we have been lucky enough to have had time to prepare for this pandemic. We have been able to allocate extra ICU beds for the sick, we have been able to preserve as much PPE as possible to prepare for the worst. We have had time to clear out our units to make room for patients with COVID 19. Our hospital is giving extra training to nurses
I have been asked to work in the ICU where most, if not all, patients are positive for COVID. It's not an easy decision to make, but we must stick together and support each other during these times. Many lessons will be learnt from this new chapter, but I hope this pandemic has shown people the necessities of life and what not to take for granted.
Let's save the world one day at a time.
Stay home. Stay safe.
MornaLisa Sinnathurai, Registered Nurse, Montreal
I’m a Registered Nurse Clinician working at two departments, the birthing centre delivering babies, and front line at an emergency walk-in. It’s been tough, especially at the walk-in, because we have to take safety precautions and proper screening in filtering out who need to be seen at the walk-in immediately, and less urgent cases who don’t need to be seen during this pandemic. It truly will be helpful to control the spread of COVID-19 if people respect the requests to socially distance themselves and stay home, if they really don’t need to see a healthcare professional. If they are worried about their symptoms, then best to call the COVID helpline or 811, before presenting themselves in person. As much as we’re trying to prevent the spread to people around us, we really don’t want to infect newborns.
Selvabarath Muralitharan & Surabiga Nadarajah, Doctors, Ontario
The husband and wife team are both doctors, with Dr Muralitharan a physician working at both Richmond Hill and Hamilton Hospital in Ontario, and Dr Nadarajah is a neurologist working at Mackenzie Health.
“We have a beautiful daughter and son, who we come home to after work. We have been staying strong during this pandemic and are asking everyone to be safe and cautious during this time. We are lucky to have wonderful grandparents at home to look after their children, which gives us a bit of space to work. We want to ask everyone to be considerate of frontline workers and to stay at home.”
Niro Kuganenderan, Doctor, London
Today is my first day off in a while. Whilst I am sitting here reflecting on my week, there was one day last week that I found particularly hard.
3.30 pm. I was on-call. I was just about to sit down to have a bite to eat. The surgery was busy with over a 100 phone calls that morning. Another call came in. Reception called me to say, Niro you better take this. On the line was one of my patient’s wife. She rings to say that she thinks her husband has just died but she couldn’t be sure. She says please can you come? He had COVID-19.
A few thoughts went through my head, do I go and see him? The new Coronavirus Act means a competent family member can verify death, shall I just get the wife to do it? No that can’t be right, I better not to do that. Shall I video-call the wife? Or just get the district nurses to go who were visiting him in a few hours anyway? After a few wrestling thoughts , I decided the right thing to do was to go myself in some basic PPE.
When I got to the house, the wife was by her husband’s bedside, holding his hand. I knew when I looked at him. I said I am so sorry. She just burst out crying. His children, all grown up and live away were waiting outside all gathered in the garden, 2m apart. I had to break the news. Everyone started crying. My tears couldn’t hide behind my visor.
But you know what the hardest part was? Due to Covid-19 and household isolation they couldn’t even come into their beloved family home.
They couldn’t even give their mum a hug. They couldn’t see their dad’s face for one last time. They couldn’t touch their dad’s hand for one last time. They couldn’t even say goodbye.
We clap for our key workers who are all doing a fantastic job in difficult circumstances BUT we must remember the people who have been affected by Covid-19. Next time we clap for our carers, let’s spare a thought for all the people who are dying on their own with no family around them. We cannot forget the grief of the families who have lost their loved one and have been robbed of one of the most basic human rights- the ability to grieve.
We need your support
Sri Lanka is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist. Tamil journalists are particularly at threat, with at least 41 media workers known to have been killed by the Sri Lankan state or its paramilitaries during and after the armed conflict.
Despite the risks, our team on the ground remain committed to providing detailed and accurate reporting of developments in the Tamil homeland, across the island and around the world, as well as providing expert analysis and insight from the Tamil point of view
We need your support in keeping our journalism going. Support our work today.
For more ways to donate visit https://donate.tamilguardian.com.