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A Pakistani doctor who has served tirelessly on the front line of the UAE's fight against Covid-19 has been awarded a golden visa for her crucial contribution.
Javairia Hassan, 30, has seen the devastating effects of the pandemic while working as a physician in intensive care units caring for critically ill patients.
Dr Hassan became a frontline worker in May, 2020, at field hospitals in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.
She was also part of the third phase of the Sinopharm vaccine trial from August to December, highlighting her steadfast support for the country during challenging times.
She currently works at the intensive care unit at Mafraq Hospital, continuing to help the nation's drive to beat the pandemic.
'It was our duty to step forward'
“I was among the first batch of doctors who started working during the pandemic,” she told The National.
“Professionally, it was a huge deal. It was a new disease and there wasn’t a lot of information about it. We spend all day long wearing PPE [personal protective equipment] and it can be overwhelming at times but as healthcare workers, it is our duty to step forward and help.
“Being awarded the 10-year visa makes me feel appreciated and it’s a great way to reward the healthcare workers who have been working tirelessly since the pandemic started,” said Dr Hassan, who has been in the medical field for eight years and holds a practicing licence from Pakistan, England and the UAE.
“When I received the call, I was really happy. Then, when they stamped the visa on my passport, I just couldn’t stop smiling. It was a great feeling.”
Sacrifices made for Covid patients
She said she worked 15-hour shifts four times a week to treat critical patients.
Heavy working hours in different emirates each week kept her away from her husband and three-year-old son, who live in Dubai.
“That was one of the most difficult parts, because my son was very young when the pandemic started, so I was gone most of the time,” she said.
“We’ve called the UAE our home for several years and we wanted to help in any way we could, so we made it work. When I do get to go home, we make sure to make our time together really special.”
Because she is still tending to Covid-19 patients in the critical ward, Dr Hassan is allowed to go home to her family only once a week.
Support for healthcare heroes
Last year, the UAE announced a care programme for more than 80,000 frontline workers that would offer them housing support and financial benefits.
A registry was launched that lists tens of thousands of practitioners, cleaners, nurses, police, volunteers, sanitation personnel and other essential health service providers.
Doctors in the UAE qualify for the golden visa, which provides long-term residency in the country, as well as scientists and PhD holders.
In a recent announcement, the UAE laid out a plan to provide 100,000 golden visas for the world’s best coders.