Health workers slog on despite stress

Muhd Nawi and his colleagues

KUCHING: The Covid-19 pandemic has yet to show any sign of decline, in fact, the number of positive cases reported every day is on the rise.

Even more tragic, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah in his Facebook account pointed out that when active Covid-19 cases exceed their ability and capacity to be treated, doctors will have to make difficult choices to prioritise Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds for patients with a higher cure potential than patients with poor prognosis.

“Apart from having to make this difficult choice, our forensic medical services also have to put the (dead) bodies in special containers as the mortuary rooms in our hospitals are currently full due to the sudden increase in the number of deaths due to this deadly virus.

“These are the implications that we need to face when the health system reaches its maximum capacity,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, health workers are also stressed and tired with the increase in positive cases.

According to Mohd Nawi Mohamad Talib, an assistant environmental health officer who was contacted by our reporter recently, he did not deny that he was very tired as he has to face this difficult situation every day.

Muhd Nawi clad in his PPE suit.

“Our working hours are now uncertain as the existing staff is very inadequate.

“We really hope that the ministry can employ more competent contract staff to help ease the burden we are currently carrying.

“What is even more tiring for us as frontliners is the selfish attitude of a handful of people which also brings trouble to others.

“Just imagine, hundreds of respondents are interviewed every day for the risk assessment purposes to enable us to assess their level of infection risk from which, we can find out whether they need to do a swab test or not.

“What is sad is that most of the answers we get from these respondents are that they have history of going to rallies, vacation, massage parlours and all sorts of other answers that can provoke my anger as a frontliner, who has worked tirelessly to fight this virus from spreading further.

“It’s so much fun for them to be able to do activities that have been prohibited by the government (and the Health Ministry in particular) without thinking about the impact that frontliners, especially health workers like us, have to bear,” explained Mohd Nawi, who works at the Segamat Health Office in Johor.

Elaborating further, the 37-year-old Sarawakian pointed out that there are many people (respondents) who are dishonest when answering the questions posed to them.

According to him, although these questions are sometimes considered trivial by the respondents, they are actually very important for the purpose of contact tracing.

“Not only do we have to deal with dishonest respondents, we also have to warm up for hours under personal protective equipment (PPE) suits to carry out the task entrusted to us.

“It really tests our mental and physical levels as we have to warm up under the tent while resisting hunger and thirst as we are not encouraged to eat and drink while using complete PPE.

“With these various challenges, it is not impossible that there will be frontliners especially health workers who can ‘fall down’ at any time because they are too tired,” said the young man from Kampung Gersik, Petra Jaya, admitting that he has experienced a sudden weight loss since starting duty using the PPE suits throughout the pandemic.

Health workers are also required to wear PPE suits when burying the bodies of Covid-19 patients.

Sharing about his experience while taking care of the Covid-19 patients, Mohd Nawi said it was one of the saddest moments he has witnessed as family members were not allowed to take care of patients or accompany them when they were to be buried.

The assistant environmental health officer added he also had witnessed how this deadly virus claimed the life of a senior citizen who got the infection from his son who returned from the red zone and was later confirmed positive for Covid-19.

“All the family members have been instructed to undergo quarantine except the youngest child of the patient as he is elsewhere.

“Throughout the patient fighting for his life against the Covid-19 virus until he breathed his last, none of his family members were allowed to visit him.

“However, the victim’s youngest child, who has obtained approval to cross the state, had the opportunity to send his father’s remains to the cemetery.

“It breaks my heart to see the young man apologising to his late father because he could not take care of him after he was admitted to the hospital.

“In this regard, I would like to emphasise to all communities to always adhere to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) set by the government to protect themselves and their family members,” said Muhd Nawi.

In the meantime, he also encouraged the public to register for the Covid-19 vaccine as soon as possible to reduce the severe risk of getting infected with the virus.

In addition, Muhd Nawi reminded all Malaysians to continue to practise new norm practices such as wearing face masks, practising physical distancing and regularly washing their hands with water and soap or hand sanitisers if they have to leave the house.

“What is important, if there are no important matters, please stay at home and avoid non-essential travel to areas at risk of Covid-19 infection or red zones as this is the biggest contributor to the increase in Covid-19 positive cases in our country.

“I appeal to the public to jointly assist the frontliners in fighting this pandemic from continuing to get worse.

“Meanwhile, to the frontliners, continue your struggle tirelessly because we are the lifeblood of the country and the hope of the people,” he stressed.

As responsible citizens, let us together help the government and frontliners to break the chain of this deadly virus so that we can live a normal life as before.

Health workers are also required to wear PPE suits when burying the bodies of Covid-19 patients.