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Tamil healthcare workers on the COVID-19 frontline - Switzerland

With thousands of deaths from coronavirus across Switzerland, we look at some of the Tamils healthcare workers 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.

Throughout this month we will update the page to bring you testimonies from those on the frontline.



Senay Yoha, Medical Student, Zurich

All schools have now been shut down, from kindergarten to universities it has all been closed and children have now been sent home. Medical students have now been recruited to help the healthcare system because of the pandemic. Emergency helplines have also been recruiting, including in Zurich. There is a 144 number for emergencies, whilst all other emergencies go to another helpline, which medical students have been asked to help with. I am one of those people.

Because I am being trained in the medical field I can understand the dangers of the coronavirus and can be directed to the right sources of information. However through my work I have found that there are so many people who are scared and don’t know what to do. In Switzerland there are lots of people, especially migrants like Serbians, Portuguese and Tamils, who don’t have access to the right information so will call us for help. I’ve dealt with cases over the phone which have included emergencies, such as children with fevers and difficulties in breathing, who have parents that are sometimes scared to take them to hospital because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I dealt with a multiple sclerosis patient who suddenly lost sensation in her legs. Besides COVID-19 there are many serious cases that I’ve dealt with.

Every week in Switzerland the public claps for healthcare workers. An 86-year-old neighbour of mine was in tears as she clapped for me and other healthcare works around the country. “I lived and had a nice life,” she said. “But I care about what happens to young people her. And it cannot be taken for granted. Thank you for working so hard.” She told me that she promised that she and her whole family would stay indoors and isolate to try and help us and asked me to share her message of thanks to everyone I knew. Her words brought me to tears. So many people have been giving their thanks. And in turn, I am so grateful to my parents who struggled and came to this country and supported me in my studies.

It is difficult as medical students we still have exams in June and there is that pressure too.

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