When unsung heroes suit up


  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 25 Mar 2020

On the front line: Dr Tan said that medical staff were now working long hours, and the shift of certain employees could be extended until midnight.

PETALING JAYA: Working long hours, being drenched in sweat at the end of a shift, showering up to five times a day and suffocating beneath personal protective equipment (PPE).

These are just some of the many daily hurdles endured by frontliners battling the scourge of Covid-19.

As compliance among Malaysians to stay at home during the two-week movement control order (MCO) continues to grow, the “war” on Covid-19 appeared to be an uphill task, as medical officers who spoke to The Star described their fatigue, exhaustion and stress.

Dr Eugene Tan, 27, is part of the Covid-19 screening team at a local government clinic in Sabah.

He said the clinic which he worked at had set up a dedicated makeshift tent outside the premises where medical samples were taken.

“It can get quite uncomfortable under the sun and under those layers of PPE. It’s also very hard to breathe under the mask and face shield in the humidity.

“You come out all drenched in sweat, ” he said, as he explained the standard operating procedures, which were meticulous and thorough.

“One of the hardest things about the job is finding food after I am done with work. Most eateries and deliveries close after 5pm.”

Dr Tan also said that medical staff were now working long hours, and the shift of certain employees could be extended until midnight.

He said medical officers who took turns screening patients were required to shower after every Covid-19 screening, adding that some even had to be quarantined if the patients who they attended to were found to be symptomatic.

“I think some of my colleagues shower up to four or five times a day at most, ” he said.

Among the concerns raised by Dr Tan is whether the clinic has enough PPE to sustain them.

“How long is this pandemic going to last? We are worried our PPE is not enough, ” he said.

Dr Tan urged Malaysians not to panic over the Covid-19 outbreak and to comply with the 14-day MCO, which is expected to end on March 31.

“Observe hand hygiene and cough etiquette as well. Please be honest with us, especially if there’s possible exposure to the disease, ” he said.

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