Coronavirus: Indian nurses tell of emotional farewells after answering 'call to serve' in UAE

Many medics have left small kids behind, others will miss the birth of their first child

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Indian nurses have told of emotional farewells to family members left back home after flying to the UAE to support the country's fight against Covid-19.

Eighty-eight medics trained in critical have arrived in Dubai to ease the pressure on nursing staff in the emirate.

They have been drafted in by Aster DM Healthcare to treat a growing number of patients battling the virus at facilities in Dubai.

The front line professionals were ready and willing to make personal sacrifices for the greater good of saving lives.

Stephanie Newton, a senior nurse from Bangalore in southern India, steeled herself before breaking the news to her children, aged 10, 3 and the youngest who turned one this month, that she would be away for months.

"There are people suffering who need us so we have come as a team to help get the country get clear of Covid-19," Ms Newton told The National.

“This is my profession and of course we are worried but my husband and elder son have been really supportive. I have made myself strong. As nurses we need to keep smiling, that’s our motto."

Gickson Johny, (far left) a nurse in southern India with colleagues in a Kochi. He is in Dubai as part of a team of 88 medics from Aster DM Healthcare who will care for Covid-19 patients. Courtesy: Gickson Johny

Her children will be cared for by her husband whose workload with an online food delivery firm has declined due to the lockdown enforced across India to slow the spread of the virus.

The nurses have flown-in from Karnataka, Kerala and Kolhapur and will be deployed across the UAE’s Covid-19 facilities.

A fresh infusion of nurses will boost the round-the-clock load on intensive care units and field hospitals and has the backing of health authorities, the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation and the Indian consulate.

“There are more nurses ready to come here and take care of patients,” the 35-year-old said.

“We have been called to serve and have the opportunity to help another country fight the Covid crisis. This is good for the relations between the countries and it is also a challenge for me to take up.”

Gickson Johny, a 34-year-old nurse from Kochi in southern India, will not be home for the birth of his child in September.

The first-time dad says his wife Sherin and his family support his decision to come to Dubai to care for Covid-19 patients.

“When my baby is born, I want to have the feeling that I have done all I can to stop this pandemic from spreading,” said Mr Johny. His father worked in the automobile sector in Sharjah more than a decade ago.

“No family wants to send someone into this situation but my wife and mother understand that I can use my training to help patients here. All of us are mentally prepared that we will be handling positive cases. We will monitor them, give them the best treatment and psychological support.”

Aster said flying the nurses in to the UAE would support the nation's drive to contain the coronavirus outbreak and help deliver quality care for patients who have tested positive.

Doctors and nurses from the private sector such as Aster have been part of co-ordinated nationwide efforts to screen people in densely populated zones, manage isolation facilities and distribute essential supplies.