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Officials from the public health department fumigate Umoja health center in Nairobi on March 30, 2020 as Government upscalled fumigation of public areas in Eastlands to contain the spread of Coronavirus. Photo [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Health & Science
Everyday, when my phone buzzes with a call or a message, I hold my breath, hoping it is not news of another victim of the virus.

The novel coronavirus has presented a unique and unprecedented challenge to healthcare providers around the world. Thousands have contracted the deadly virus, with hundreds having succumbed. More are still at risk of contracting the disease.

From doctors to those who attend to patients, none is sure of the next time they will see their loved ones from the moment they report to work. And there are all the possibilities that reporting to work could as well mark one’s first of the 14 days of mandatory quarantine. Yet, even when one has been put under quarantine, the anxiety from fears that the test could turn out positive for coronavirus is just unbearable.Based on what has happened since the disease broke out in Wuhan, China, last year, no one is safe.

Everyday, when my phone buzzes with a call or a message, I hold my breath, hoping it is not news of another victim of the virus. Yet this has happened over the past few weeks - not once or twice - with some of those reported to have contracted the disease being doctors and other medical staff. 

“I have been here since Tuesday and I don’t know when I will go home,” was a message from a healthcare worker in quarantine after being suspected to have contracted coronavirus. She was worried, not just about herself, but her children, not knowing when she would see them next. She said she had been looking forward to going home on the day she was detained, and the same wards where she had been admitting patients became her home as well.

SEE ALSO: The repercussions of Covid-19 fight

It had all started at the accident and emergency area. A patient was brought in and as usual, she and her colleagues rushed to attend to him. And there was nothing so special about this patient. It was only after attending to him that she and her five colleagues discovered he was a traveller and had met the criteria for suspects of Covid-19. By the time the patient’s entire travel history was disclosed to them it was already too late.

They may have had their surgical masks and gloves on, but they still had to go into quarantine. They didn’t want to take chances and risk the lives of their families.

Halfway through the 14-day quarantine and the going becomes difficult. She is not sure if she will develop the symptoms. The uncertainty about her tomorrow becomes depressing. At the same time, results of tests carried on the patient are yet to come out, which worsens the medics’ anxiety.

The hospital management said it had to send a nurse home to self-quarantine. The hospital was not going to risk the lives of its staff. She only had a surgical mask and came too close to a patient she was attending to. The nurse was eventually confirmed to have Covid-19.

Those left behind were thankful they had not fallen victim to the disease. Based on what has been happening, I cannot predict what will happen next. As a matter of fact, I am also afraid. The most devastating news has been losing a medic in the line of duty. It is like losing soldiers who are in war to defend their country. Those who survive have to carry their fallen colleagues and those wounded back home. Even if one is psychologically prepared for the battle, the scars of war never leave. It is difficult.

SEE ALSO: We must borrow the wisdom of our forefathers to win current battles

Ms Korir is a medical doctor and a reporter with The Standard


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