Heroes risking life on COVID19 frontline | Daily News


 

Heroes risking life on COVID19 frontline

 Why are we now so dexterously washing hands, staying away from people except for immediate family/households? How do we know the way that the COVID-19 virus is transmitted? How did we learn the gestation period of the virus in the body? Its symptoms – so deceptively like influenza?

How did we learn who gets affected fastest and worst? How did we first identify this new disease as being caused by a previously un-identified virus that seems to have evolved from other animal viruses?

All this and much more medical and health facts are now known to us as we rigorously, and  nervously, practise all the necessary precautions even as ‘normal’ life remains in suspense.

This knowledge – even if we don’t know a cure or vaccine – is a certain emotional and psychological reassurance to all of us as we try to deal with this bizarre, scary, science fiction-like world in which we suddenly find ourselves. This rapidly accumulated and, further accumulating, corpus of information and knowledge about the looming crisis is like a bedrock on which human society’s normality currently seems to rest. 

It is because of this knowledge and shared information by the experts, the researchers, the medical treatment specialists and myriad attendant medical workers, that this ‘bizarre’ world is actually not really bizarre. The unseen danger can actually be seen thanks to the reproduction of the electron microscope images of the virus done by the first medical researchers who encountered this disease in Wuhan, China. These medical researchers bravely persisted with their investigations even as they learned, through their very investigations, the lethal severity of the risk they, themselves, were taking.

And many medical personnel, first in China, and then, as the virus spread, throughout the world, have already fallen victim to COVID19.

Our current knowledge is what enables us to retain our confidence of survival and the reassurance of knowing what to do to survive.  That knowledge comes to us from the medical workers, researchers and administrators who have engaged with this contagion from its onset and studied (at continued risk) its effect on the body, way of transmission, the direction of spread and the speed of its spread. These facts are only a part of the tremendous volume of data that is being accumulated, which is so important to tackling the contagion. 

Of course, the primary or immediate role of medical personnel has been in treating those affected by the disease. The vast majority of those tested COVID19 positive have survived and, will survive, thanks to the labours and courage of all the medical workers from Wuhan to Sri Lanka and all over the world. True, many other cadres of public health and security personnel, both bureaucrats and security forces, are also risking their lives as they respond at speed to this threat to human society.

But given the nature of this global disaster, it is the professional medical workers who are at the frontline of the battle against this looming, but unseen, enemy.

If we count all medical and health workers worldwide, either engaging with or on the alert for, COVID-19, the number will amount to a few million, including the thousands of academic and private sector researchers now urgently searching for a vaccine and possible curative drugs.   In Sri Lanka alone, there are scores of thousands medical personnel, ranging from the lowly ‘Attendant’ to specialized scientists and administrators now on the frontline, literally working night and day against the disease.

They must work hard and fast because it is the speed with which we halt the spread of the virus that will, in turn, reduce the rate of spread and, hopefully halt the actual infection of humans before the number of infected overwhelms our health system.

And, by working non-stop and continuously, thereby exhausting themselves, these untiring medical workers are weakening their own immune system, rendering them more vulnerable to infection.

In another twist, no amount of videography or photography of medical workers at work in all kinds of sites of the infection (from trains to airports to malls) can provide us with the human face of this bravery because all personnel directly dealing with the virus are shrouded in protective clothing. All we have are images of shrouded figures. In any case, no videographer can dare approach them too closely because entry into a virus affected zone is too risky.

Thus, even as we zealously engage in our own resistance to this invisible enemy, we cannot see the faces of those medical workers defending us and learn of the urgency, the frustrations and, terrors they are living through on the frontline.   

Awareness of their great endeavour and courage to protect all of us must surely inspire us to be more disciplined and rigorous in playing our part in helping our fellow humans survive and recover from this threat. 


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