It has been two-and-a-half months since a novel strand of the coronavirus was discovered in Wuhan, China. As the pandemic continues to spread, calls are being made for most people to self-isolate, if possible, to avoid contracting and transmitting the virus. But for those keeping us safe – healthcare workers, including doctors, nurses, paramedics and others – self-isolation is not an option.
Their hard work and dedication have allowed more than 85,000 people across the globe to recover thus far. As hospitals continue to welcome new coronavirus patients, medical staff are likely to come under further strain. In recognition for their invaluable work, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, has paid tribute to them in a series of tweets.
“They stand in the front line of our defences,” he said of medical staff. “We owe them a great debt, and we will never forget their service.”
In the UAE alone, medical staff have so far treated 113 people of coronavirus infection, helped 26 patients fully recover and conducted more than 127,000 tests. Hospital staff are working around the clock, not only to treat coronavirus patients, but also to keep other healthcare operations running smoothly for those who still suffer from other ailments.
Just this week, UAE surgeons performed an operation to close a two-centimetre gap in a five-year-old child’s heart, saving her life. Essential surgery and treatment have remained available in spite of the pandemic – a success that we owe to dedicated health workers.
Across the world, these women and men have stood up in the face of disease and braved grave dangers. In some countries they have been willing to do so with little or no compensation. In Lebanon for instance, a team of 14 medical students from the Lebanese University volunteered to look after patients in the country’s coronavirus emergency quarantine facility, at Beirut's Rafik Hariri University Hospital. These volunteers are working 12-hour shifts without pay.
In South Korea, which was hit by the virus early on, a large part of the government’s containment measures relied on mass testing. Healthcare workers have administered 12,000 to 15,000 tests daily and have created the capacity to conduct approximately 20,000 daily.
These tests are believed to have been integral to halting the virus’s spread in the country, saving many South Korean lives. Such a feat would not have been possible without the expertise of round-the-clock medical staffers dedicating their nights and days to the public good.
In some cases, hospital staff have even lost their own lives in the effort to protect those of others. In China, where the virus was first detected, more than 3,300 healthcare workers have been infected with the coronavirus, including Doctor Li Wenliang, who was among the first to warn about the virus and died in February from the disease.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought much in this world to a temporary standstill, and for those seeking to protect themselves and their loved ones, life in these times can sometimes feel frozen. But if there is one thing that ought to inspire confidence and deliver comfort, it is the knowledge that, whatever changes the pandemic may bring to our lives, the hard work of our doctors, nurses and others who support them in this fight continues.