UAE frontline workers from 10 countries talk about the challenges of the job – in pictures

'The National' asked 10 people at the forefront of the UAE's battle against Covid the question: what has been the biggest challenge you have faced while being a PCR frontline worker?

Filipino Loui Royo, 33, said his biggest challenge was living up to the expectation of keeping everyone safe. Victor Besa / The National
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Name: Mohammed Kaloub

Age: 30

Nationality: Palestinian

Work: PCR technician at the Tamouh tent in Mussaffah for five months

Past work: Hotel manager

"The biggest challenge so far is the day-by-day interaction with thousands of people who are both negative and positive. I and my colleagues are always in danger of being infected."

Name: Batool Hayek

Age: 40

Nationality: Syrian

Work: PCR technician at Seha Covid-19 drive-through at Al Manhal in Abu Dhabi for 18 months

Past work: Nurse at Mafraq Hospital

"A big challenge was working as a nurse with positive corona patients. Inside you feel scared and at the same time you have to help those patients."

Name: Loui Royo

Age: 33

Nationality: Filipino

Work: Manager of PCR operations at Biogenix Labs for one year

Past work: MOPH-Manticao OT/ER/DR nurse

"The biggest challenge I face as a frontliner was to stand up to the expectation of keeping everyone safe, with regular testing. We are grateful to have received well-structured training in order to deliver quality care to our clients with the proper techniques and knowledge to lower the discomfort levels during testing procedures."

Name: Yusra Al Antari

Age: 38

Nationality: Emirati

Work: PCR technician at Seha Covid-19 drive-through at Al Manhal in Abu Dhabi for 13 months

Past work: Charge nurse at School Health

"Nurses will remain key players in stopping the pandemic with adequate assistance, as they have a direct exposure with the patients, which puts them at high risk of infection. Therefore, as a charge nurse, I have to make sure that we have appropriate infection control procedures and sufficient personal protective equipment all the time. Thus, they must be provided with a healthy work environment, such as being free to comment or report abuse or infection control risks, to empower their efforts to control and manage the outbreak."

Name: Bagob Fonyuy

Age: 26

Nationality: Cameroonian

Work: PCR technician at Biogenix Labs for eight months

Past work: Labour and delivery nurse

"Being a part of the PCR frontliner team is a challenging-yet-rewarding experience. One of the many challenges I face is having to protect myself from the highly infectious Covid-19 virus. Nevertheless, I am doing everything possible to help screen large crowds by carrying out swab tests for quick identification and isolation. I am always mindful of the fact that the well-being of the community depends on my levels of efficiency, so I try and work as hard as possible. The satisfaction of helping the UAE outweighs everything else."

Name: Ravikant Rajpoot

Age: 31

Nationality: Indian

Work: PCR technician at Biogenix Labs for four months

Past work: Staff nurse in India

"I understand the stress everyone is experiencing as a result of the pandemic, so I try to be as polite and kind as possible. I worry about my health but the support I receive from the Biogenix Labs and G42 Healthcare team motivates me to face any challenge with a positive attitude."

Name: Sanaa Shebl Shoker

Age: 45

Nationality: Egyptian

Work: PCR technician at Seha Covid-19 drive-through centre at Al Manhal in Abu Dhabi for nine months

Past work: Charge nurse at Al Mushrif Children's Specialty Centre

"As a frontline worker, I had been dealing with the pandemic head-on for almost a year. That’s a year of face masks. A year of dealing with angry customers. A year of health uncertainty. We all know that people have every right to be tired."

Name: Safaa Bissar

Age: 44

Nationality: Lebanese

Work: Senior lab technician at Biogenix Labs for 13 months

Past work: Lab technician in Lebanon

"Being on the frontline of this battle as a laboratory technologist takes a lot of courage to endure our current challenges. The hardest part has been to fight the virus efficiently so that we are able to return to our normal lives. There is always the anxiety of falling ill and bringing the virus home to your loved ones. But we have to keep on fighting to win this battle. We are in this together."

Name: Rabiatu Mannan

Age: 27

Nationality: Ghanaian

Work: PCR technician at the Tamouh tent in Mussaffah for six months

"One of the challenges so far is the stress, due to the number of people being swabbed daily. Just when you think the day will slow down, another busload of workers comes in the tent to get tested."

Name: Carlien Grabe

Age: 45

Nationality: British

Work: Head of PCR operations at Biogenix Labs for eight months

Past work: Nurse manager ICU and OPD Al Rahba Hospital, clinical lead Mafraq Covid Hospital, senior charge nurse in London.

"As nurses, we always have the fear of taking the virus back home to our kids, immunocompromised parents and elderly family members. Although wearing the personal protective equipment kit is beneficial, wearing it for long hours can be uncomfortable as it gets too hot, even with regular breaks. In hindsight, these challenges are dwarfed in comparison to safeguarding public health in our fight against the pandemic."

Updated: September 13, 2021, 10:27 AM