From the start of this pandemic,Doctors, nurses and healthcare workers have become the unwitting heroes of the corona virus, winning applause from balconies and streets around the world.
From Nairobi to Seoul, Yaounde to Rome to New York,Doha to Paris, the pandemic has infected more than 2.1 million people and claimed 127,000 lives.
Hospital workers are dealing with a huge influx of patients, while also facing a lack of equipment in many cases and the fear of becoming infected themselves. Often, they face heartbreaking decisions while treating their patients.
In Italy, one of the worst affected countries, dozens of doctors and nurses have died from COVID-19 and thousands of healthcare workers have become infected while on duty. This has further complicated their lives since they pose a great danger to their families.
Mariana, nursing coordinator in the COVID-19 intensive care unit of the Hamad International Hospital in Doha, underlined the importance of being appropriately kitted out with masks, visors, gloves, scrubs and suits to avoid contagion.
“We don’t set aside a specific amount of time for it, but we have estimated that for a seven-hour shift, about 40-50 minutes is spent just on getting dressed,” she said.
“In terms of hand washing and hand decontamination, we are talking about 60-75 minutes per day,” she said after scolding a care worker for not wearing a mask.
In the Pacific port city of Guayaquil in Ecuador, a sick nurse makes no attempt to hide her anger: 80 of her colleagues have been infected and five have already died.
Ecuador is one of the worst affected countries in South America, with hundreds of dead bodies lying inside homes because the morgues are full.
“We went to war without any weapons,” said the 55-year-old nurse, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“The necessary equipment was not ready when this (the pandemic) was already happening, devastating Europe,” said the nurse, who is resting at home as there is no space in the hospitals.
Patients with “severe symptoms” were arriving at her emergency department, “but due to a lack of tests, they were treated as if they had the flu and sent home.”
“We had no personal protective equipment (PPE) but we could not refuse to treat the patients,” she said.