A doctor who contracted a severe case of Covid-19 at work has urged the public to adhere to safety measures and not to underestimate the importance of staying at home whenever possible.
Dr Waguih Elsissi, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon and medical director of Ajman Specialty Hospital, began feeling symptoms of the virus after checking on patients on April 6.
“During the round I supervised the transportation of a patient who was in isolation at the hospital,” said Dr Elsissi, 80, from Egypt.
He said the pain grew unbearable and he developed a strong cough. When he returned home, he felt disorientated and exhausted.
"But I couldn't eat and was unable to sleep the whole night because of the non-stop coughing and the horrible pain. It felt as if someone had been pounding my bones and broke them into pieces," he said.
Dr Elsissi took a strong pain killer but felt no difference, saying the incessant coughing made him feel constantly out of breath.
The next day, he was too weak to go to work so his daughter took him to the preventive medicine unit in Ajman, where they were both tested for Covid-19.
Once Dr Elsissi was swabbed, he began vomiting profusely and fell unconscious. He was immediately taken to Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Ajman.
"I didn't interfere in the doctor's treatment plan but, due to the intense and non-stop pain, I asked them to give me anything that would help put me to sleep."
His test result showed that he had contracted Covid-19 while his daughter's test came back negative.
Dr Elsissi spent nearly a month in hospital being treated for Covid-19. He said he was not afraid of dying but worried for his family, especially with his daughter, 32, who was quarantining home alone and his wife, 68, who became stuck in Egypt after borders closed.
Dr Elsissi and his family have lived in the UAE for 23 years. The doctor has worked at Ajman Specialty hospital for the past three years.
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"I am a believer and I know one's life is in God's hands … but I was thinking of my family of a wife and one daughter and what would happen to them."
His wife had travelled to Egypt to visit family and discovered the UAE had closed its borders while making her way to the airport for her flight back to the Emirates. She has since received approval to return to the UAE and is due to travel within the month.
He said that, despite being a doctor, struggling with the virus alone in hospital affected his outlook.
"One of many downsides of being infected is that your morale gets shaken.
“But words of encouragement by UAE leaders who stressed that everyone will be taken care of, kept me, others, and medical staff motivated and feeling safe,” he said.
Medics were able to treat the worst of his symptoms within eight days of being admitted to the hospital.
"Everyone in the medical team was doing all that in their power and were working so hard to take care of all patients,' Dr Elsissi said.
After being discharged from hospital, he stayed at a hotel for four days while he was tested again for the virus.
On receiving the all-clear, he returned home, where he self-isolated for a further 10 days.
"My daughter would leave me the food or any other essentials at the door, until I was done self isolating."
Having recovered from the deadly virus, Dr Elsissi's message to the public is clear: take safety measures seriously to protect yourself and others.
"The safe distance you leave between you and other people, wearing your mask and gloves and washing your hands, are your safety net.
"These are simple procedures yet are the guarantee you don't get infected."