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Tamil healthcare workers on the COVID-19 frontline - April 4th

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.

United Kingdom

Ashmi Ganeshamoorthy, Doctor, London

“From a personal experience, the last couple of weeks have been challenging and tiring. Aside from getting used to completely new ways of working, there are many psychological challenges. As junior doctors we are very much at the frontline with COVID patients and due to shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), we are not being given adequate protection.  Seeing our colleagues having to self isolate one by one only adds to the pressure.”

There have been times where we had to see patients (whom COVID status were unknown) without any PPE, and the next day same patients developing symptoms and testing positive for COVID. 

All the above will only cause anxiety for a limited amount of time. But after that you reach a point where you learn to accept it and get on with your work. It has not been easy for our family and our loved ones.”

 

Arun Kirupakaran, Doctor, London

"I was moved from my day job as an ophthalmology trainee doctor onto the medical covid rota, where I now work 12 hour day and night shifts. It was a huge change to what I was used to! Seeing patients on the ward feels like a lifetime ago. Now my job involves clerking in patients in A&E, reviewing their oxygen saturations, ordering chest X rays and having difficult conversations with patients and their relatives about the potential consequences of coronavirus."

"Patients vary vastly in terms of their age, past medical history, baseline functional status; not just 'typical elderly patients with co-morbidities' as classically presented in the media. The most common symptoms are fever, headache, dry cough, back pain and loss of smell. These are not the ONLY symptoms though. 10% of patients present with gastro-intestinal symptoms such as nausea and diarrhoea."

"Everyone is scared. Doctors, nurses, patients, relatives, the general public. No one was prepared for this pandemic. We will get through this together and be back to our daily routines soon. But until then we all have a duty to be nice and help each other. Support yourself, your family, friends, neighbours and work colleagues. Check up on all of them and try stay positive. Before we know it life will return to normal."

 

Canada

Apiramy Sivasambu, Medical Technologist, Montreal

"I’d like to highlight medical technologists because without us, doctors are just guessing. Medical technologists are the professionals who test the COVID-19 samples and report the results to the physicians.

We are often the unsung heroes of the healthcare system. Often forgotten and never thanked for our services during this pandemic."

 

Rajeswary Logan, Doctor, Markham

"It was just two days ago I was talking to one my patients virtually, a middle-aged man in his 50s, who was seemingly fine; only to find out today that he’s been admitted to the hospital and currently on a ventilator. There are many people who still don’t take this seriously, but let me tell you: it is. 

I often get worried about my 88-year-old mother who is healthy, but lives with me. I never once thought about retreating from the fight, but I can’t be sick either. That’s why before I step foot in my house, I change out my clothes in the garage, place them in a plastic bag, put a load in the laundry, wipe down my phone and keys, and then head up to shower. There is just so much uncertainty that you cannot take the risk. Young, old, healthy, rich, poor – no one is immune. 

However, despite all the uncertainty that comes along with Covid-19, I try to maintain faith. I remind myself that I am blessed to have a government that is allocating the necessary resources to help our citizens during these difficult times, an equitable healthcare system, and some of the bravest frontline workers in the world that continues to inspire me every single day. 

So if there is one message I can say it is to heed the science and advice from your doctor, public health experts, and government officials. We all have a responsibility, and this only works when we all play own part in this. Stay home, stay safe. The best way you can keep your loved ones safe is by doing just this. And lastly, physically distancing shouldn’t stop us from human connection. I think it’s more critical than ever that kindness and solidarity becomes more infectious than the virus itself."

 

Singapore

Nirmal Bhai, Pharmacy Technician, Singapore

"I want you to make a list of all the people you know who Are >60, immunocompromised, or a healthcare worker. Think about looking them in the eye and saying, I do not care about your health and do not care if you are hospitalized or die from this disease. How does that feel? If someone said, stay at home for two weeks, and your loved ones will not get sick, would you do that to make sure they stayed well?

Social distancing is all we have right now. I hope a month from now we are all looking back and saying this was an over reaction because then we know it worked.
This is a pandemic. First in our lifetime. These weeks will NOT be easy and they will NOT be normal. Please follow instructions. Please listen to your doctors, employers, and government. No one in their right mind would shut down things like this unless it was ABSOLUTELY necessary."