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 of healthcare workers around the world who are working to keep us all safe.
Vimoshana Vijayakumar, Respiratory Therapist, London
“We are at 28 positive cases in London with about 6 at my hospital requiring ventilator support. It truly has been an overwhelming time for health care workers and respiratory therapists in particular. RTs are called to every patient that comes through the doors that experience difficulties breathing. We manage the ventilators that these patients are requiring to support their breathing. Our patient loads have increased and the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) makes it difficult to feel safe while doing the job we love to do!
A lot of the patients I have seen have been immune-compromised or have multiple co-morbidities. However, we are beginning to see patients that are otherwise healthy requiring more support than we would normally see. That being said, these scary times have brought out some amazing qualities in people with overwhelming positive messages, donations or PPE and community support. It truly makes us feel supported!
What I can ask of everyone is to take this seriously and practice physical distancing, and proper hand hygiene. It is truly the only way we will flatten the curve! Share positivity, send love to your loved ones and we will definitely get through this!"
Ramanan Gukathasan Doctor, London
“The last few weeks have been daunting and demanding. We healthcare professionals (HCPs) and the wider community are facing something never before experienced; the importance of us working together to get through this cannot be stressed enough.
These are strange and scary times, both inside the hospital and the outside world. I have had to get used to a whole new way of working when treating “Covid-suspected” patients and my rota has been upheaved to ensure the hospital is better staffed through day and night. This is going to be a marathon, not a sprint.
Working on the so-called “front-line”, I have seen how quickly people can deteriorate with Covid-19. People may think HCPs are the only one who can do anything about this; however, that is not the case. We, the HCPs, are not your front-liners anymore; we are your last line of defence. You, the public, are the front-liners now.
The public have a vastly important role to play in all of this by practising social distancing. It is the strongest (and possibly only) tool we have to take control of this situation and stop it in its tracks.
Only go out when you need to. Stay at home unless it is absolutely essential i.e. going to the shops, to work or to hospital for a genuine emergency. As someone who is passionate about health & fitness, I advise you to get some degree of daily exercise and sun exposure (I understand this may be difficult depending on where you live!). Direct exposure to sunlight is your best source of Vitamin D, which is linked with a healthy immune system. Exercise stimulates endorphin production which also plays a role in the immune system and contributes towards a positive mindset. If you have access to a garden and fitness equipment at home, use it; make sure you avoid crowded areas if you need to go outside your house for exercise.
In addition to all of these, aim to:
- Eat well.
- Sleep well.
- Drink plenty (of water!).
- If you smoke, try to cut down or give up - you will need your lungs.
- Focus on your mental health - if it means having a drink every now and then that is okay, but try to avoid using junk food, drugs or alcohol as coping mechanisms for stress or boredom; meditation is a helpful tool.
- Stay in touch with friends and family regularly through technology.
- Check in on your neighbours, especially if they’re elderly.
- Don’t watch the news all the time; it can be overwhelming.
- Develop a hobby/interest, maybe learn a language.
But most of all, stay positive. We will get through this, together. Stay at home and stay safe.”
Gaya Mahalingam, Doctor, Luton
“I'm a Foundation Year 2 trainee working in Accident & Emergency for the last 4 months and also during these difficult times tackling COVID-19.
It's been a mixed bag of emotions working on the front line and I've witnessed things I didn't think I would so early on in my training. This is no joke, witnessing people with severe symptoms, needing ITU support and struggling with breathing symptoms ; and all done by themselves because this isn’t an illness where you can be by your loved ones side; that's probably one of the hardest things to witness.
Please don't think this won't affect you, by going out and visiting family you are putting people at risk. Please wash your hands. Please stay indoors. Please help us. “
Mayuri Jeganathan, Optometrist, London
“I was still going into work to provide primary eye care for patients who have emergency or essential eye problems. That would for example include a key worker who has broken their glasses and requires them to continue work. Or a patient who has suddenly started experiencing pain in the eyes and needs immediate care. Essentially, to be able to help people of the general public to allow them to continue working or to keep them out of a hospital as far as necessary.
It has been an interesting shift in my work pattern as usually work is quite busy for me, but in amongst this, it has been humbling to know that everyone is looking out for each other and keeping best interests at heart. More than anything, if I didn’t appreciate the NHS and its workers enough, from porters to HCPs, I now appreciate them and their hard work even more.
Shout out to every single other worker out there (waste collectors, supermarket workers, policemen and shop owners) including both my parents, who are staying open to continue providing essential goods and services to their local communities! We salute you."
Tamilselvan J, GKP, Mülhein an der Ruhr
"There is another message I’d like to put forward: The young Tamil community is obligated to spread news of verified government institutions. We must fight against the spreading of fake news coming from unofficial sources. In most cases they convey false information and spread fear instead of knowledge, which might help to prevent oneself from infections. Furthermore it should be underlined that herbal medicine, for example with cumin and ginger, might strengthen the immune system but will not cure people who are suffering from Covid-19."