Women’s Day 2021: Into The Life Of Corona Warriors, Fighting The COVID-19 Pandemic Since The Start

Women’s Day 2021: Into The Life Of Corona Warriors, Fighting The COVID-19 Pandemic Since The Start

International women’s day: NDTV spoke to three women Corona warriors, who have been on COVID-19 duty from as early as February, 2020. They share their work, challenges and learnings from the COVID-19 pandemic
Women’s Day 2021: Into The Life Of Corona Warriors, Fighting The COVID-19 Pandemic Since The StartHappy Women's Day: COVID-19 warriors share their experience of working on the frontlines, battling the COVID-19 pandemic and added mental stress
Highlights
  • Dr Hazell Almeida couldn’t rent a flat in Mumbai for being a COVID warrior
  • COVID warriors work for six hours straight even on their periods
  • Healthcare workers also provide emotional support to COVID-19 patients

New Delhi: The COVID-19 pandemic unleashed an unprecedented humanitarian and health crisis. The war being fought by doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers; frontline workers including police officials and sanitation workers; scientists. From putting in extra working hours to save lives and contain the spread of Novel Coronavirus, getting infected with COVID-19, to staying away from their family and friends and finding family in their patients to even being ostracised by the society, healthcare workers have faced all in the past one year. This women’s day, we take you through the journey of three women COVID warriors who didn’t bat an eye and faced all the challenges head-on.

Also Read: COVID Warrior Travels From Vishakhapatnam To Mumbai With Her Newborn To Contribute To The Fight Against COVID-19

29-year-old Dr Hazell Almeida is a Senior Medical Officer in Wockhardt Hospital, Mira Road in Mumbai, has been on COVID-19 duty for over a year now. Dr Almeida said she has lost the count of the number of COVID-19 patients, she has treated so far.

Women’s Day 2021: Into The Life Of Corona Warriors, Fighting The COVID-19 Pandemic Since The Start
COVID warrior Dr Hazell Almeida

Back in February and early March, 2020, when there were a handful of COVID-19 cases, I would travel from my home in Vasai to work by road, daily. But the fear of being a carrier of the virus and infecting my elderly-comorbid parents and other family members was always at the back of my mind. Therefore, I decided to rent a flat near the hospital. Surprisingly, every place I liked and decided to rent would become unavailable as soon as the owners would get to know that I am a doctor. Later, the hospital helped me with accommodation, recalled Dr Almeida.

Dr Almeida said that in the last one year, some of the biggest challenges she as a frontline warrior has faced are isolation, insomnia, anxiety, social ostracism and mental stress of preventing oneself from the disease while curing patients.

Also Read: Both Frontline Warriors, This Couple Miss Spending Time With Daughter As They Battle With COVID-19 Pandemic

36-year-old Jessica D’souza, Chief Nursing Officer at Global Hospital, Mumbai has been on COVID-19 duty since March 18, 2020 along with her nursing team. Ms D’souza, who has experience of over 15 years in the nursing field, said that she has made peace with COVID-19 and mainly focusses on finding the work-life balance in trying times. Talking about how she and her team motivate and support patients, Ms D’souza said,

Women’s Day 2021: Into The Life Of Corona Warriors, Fighting The COVID-19 Pandemic Since The Start
COVID Warrior Jessica D’souza, Chief Nursing Officer

Once in a while, patients can talk to their families and we keep them posted about their family’s well-being. We interact with our patients positively and spread spiritual messages. We have even celebrated birthdays and anniversaries of the patients with care and precautions so that they don’t miss out on anything.

In September 2020, Ms D’souza and her family – in-laws, children and husband – tested positive for COVID-19. Doing daily chores and ensuring each other’s well-being became a challenge as everyone was infected but as Ms D’souza said, together they fought the disease, recovered and she even joined back duty.

Also Read: COVID Fighters: Meet Agnes, A Head Nurse From Mumbai Who Is Posted In A COVID-19 Dedicated Hospital

Similarly, 42-year-old Suvarna NA, nursing incharge at BGS Gleneagles Global Hospital in Bengaluru was on COVID-19 duty from April to December, 2020. In a COVID ward, Ms Suvarna’s role was to provide medication to all the COVID infected patients and monitor their health. Talking about her work, Ms Suvarna said,

Women’s Day 2021: Into The Life Of Corona Warriors, Fighting The COVID-19 Pandemic Since The Start
COVID warrior: Suvarna NA, nursing incharge

In the month of April and May, we used to handle six patients per day. However, June onwards, the number of admissions spiked drastically and we started attending up to 15 patients per day in our COVID ward alone. As per our hospital’s guidelines, we were assigned COVID duty for a week followed by 14 days of quarantine. When on COVID-19 duty, I would stay at the hospital allotted hostel; during quarantine, I would go back home.

Further talking about the change in her work life following COVID-19, Ms Suvarna shared that earlier she was posted in the transplant ward where her job was to provide medication and take care of patients before and after transplant. She added,

Although we used to spend seven to eight hours in the hospital, we would take breaks and interact with colleagues which was a stress buster. But, when on COVID-19 duty, we hardly interact with our colleagues; everyone is covered in personal protective equipment (PPE) which is quite stressful; seeing families lose their loved ones to COVID-19 was overwhelming.

On July 21, 2020, Ms Suvarna contracted COVID-19 and was admitted to the hospital for five days. Post a quick recovery, she worked in a non-COVID ward for a month and later resumed COVID duty. After having faced COVID-19 induced hardships, Ms Suvarna believes she is prepared to face any challenge that life plans to throw at her.

Also Read: From A Care Giver To A Care Seeker: Story Of A COVID Warrior Who Is Back On Frontlines After Defeating Coronavirus

Pandemic, PPE And Periods

Talking about the challenges that come with wearing a PPE kit for hours, Dr Almeida said,

Wearing a PPE means dry mouth, full bladder, foggy vision, heat, suffocation, fatigue, headache, sometimes breathlessness, painful pressure sores and bruising especially across the bridge of the nose, cheekbone and behind the ears from the tight N95 masks. The pressure sores were the worst.

Dr Almeida and Ms Suvarna informed that they wear PPE for six hours straight and eat, drink and use the washroom before wearing PPE and after disposing it of. On the other hand, Ms D’souza said that in their hospital, they have a bio-break system where if nurses have an 8-hour shift, every 4 hours they have to go to the washroom. She added,

We always tell them to use a fresh PPE kit when they get back on duty. To ensure that the nurses have enough energy, we also provide them with a protein snack planned by the dietician in between every shift.

Women’s Day 2021: Into The Life Of Corona Warriors, Fighting The COVID-19 Pandemic Since The Start
COVID warrior Suvarna NA and her colleagues in PPE, all ready to enter COVID ward

Also Read: A COVID Warrior Shares Her Experience Of Working In A Critical Care Unit During The Pandemic

Periods, a regular monthly cycle sees no pandemic or lockdown. But, the pandemic and PPE made it difficult for women COVID warriors to ensure hygiene during their periods. Elaborating on the challenge of wearing a PPE for six hours during periods, Ms Suvarna said,

We used to wear extra-large sanitary pads for 6 hours straight. During the heavy bleeding days, we used to wear extra sanitary pads to avoid the leak.

Being A Family Away From Family, Providing Psychological Support To COVID-19 Patients

Some hospitals connect patients to their families back home with regular video calls and while patients stay disconnected from their families for the most part of their stay in the hospital, COVID warriors play the role of the support system.

We try filling the gap with activities like celebrating patients’ birthdays and other such events in the COVID area, said Dr Almeida.

Women’s Day 2021: Into The Life Of Corona Warriors, Fighting The COVID-19 Pandemic Since The Start
COVID warrior Dr Hazell Almeida with a COVID-19 patient

Also Read: COVID Fighters: Meet Stina P S, A 25-Year-Old Nurse In Delhi Who Treats COVID-19 Patients As Her Family

Sharing a similar anecdote, Ms D’souza said,

There was a patient who stayed with us for nearly 50 days. He was one of the longest staying patients in our ICU who was on the ventilator and went back home with the oxygen cylinder. By the end, he knew the names of all the nurses and could identify all of us. Then there was an 85-year-old patient who used to forget basic things and often refuse to eat. We discussed his food preferences with his family, we arranged for newspapers for him to read and kill time. The family would also send storybooks for him to keep him occupied and divert his attention as he loves reading. His family, especially granddaughters working in other cities as doctors would call every morning and whenever they felt like that their grandfather was sounding low, they would inform me.

Women’s Day 2021: Into The Life Of Corona Warriors, Fighting The COVID-19 Pandemic Since The Start
COVID warrior Jessica D’souza celebrating a birthday of a COVID-19 patient along with fellow colleagues

Healthcare workers provide such psychological and emotional support despite working under pressure and surrounded by fear, grief and loss. Ms Suvarna said,

The biggest challenge was to see a family grieving over the loss of their family member. We could see the fear in the eyes of patients; the fear of losing their life due to the dreaded infection.

COVID warriors battle stress by connecting with their family and friends, engaging in recreational activities and rejuvenate their body by practising meditation and yoga.

Also Read: COVID Warrior: A Doctor In Emergency Department Of A Mumbai Hospital Explains How Fighting COVID-19 Is Mentally And Physically Draining

Novel Coronavirus Is Still Here And Transmissible, Say Frontline Warriors

As the governments have been repeatedly saying, though the daily increase in the COVID-19 cases has come down, the novel Coronavirus is still prevalent and can cause severe infection if we let our guards down. Ms D’souza informed that the COVID ward in her hospital has started to admit patients once again and currently, they have around 25-30 patients.

COVID warriors urged citizens to take all necessary precautions and follow COVID appropriate behaviour. Dr Almeida said,

We understand everyone is tired of staying indoors, but the pandemic isn’t over yet. We have to be equally conscious and cautious by maintaining social distance and wearing our masks. We should try and avoid gatherings as it is one of the major culprits for spreading the disease.

Also Read: “Coronavirus Pandemic Is An Experience Of A Life-time”, Says 24-year-old Nurse From Delhi Who Was On COVID Duty For 3 Months

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

World

19,59,54,660Cases
6,30,45,359Active
12,87,22,004Recovered
41,87,297Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 194 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 19,59,54,660 and 41,87,297 have died; 6,30,45,359 are active cases and 12,87,22,004 have recovered as on July 29, 2021 at 4:00 am.

India

3,15,28,114 43,509Cases
4,03,840 4,404Active
3,07,01,612 38,465Recovered
4,22,662 640Deaths
In India, there are 3,15,28,114 confirmed cases including 4,22,662 deaths. The number of active cases is 4,03,840 and 3,07,01,612 have recovered as on July 29, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

62,82,914 6,857

85,913 466

60,64,856 6,105

1,32,145 286

Kerala

33,27,301 22,056

1,50,040 4,164

31,60,804 17,761

16,457 131

Karnataka

28,99,195 1,531

22,592 82

28,40,147 1,430

36,456 19

Tamil Nadu

25,53,805 1,756

21,521 667

24,98,289 2,394

33,995 29

Andhra Pradesh

19,59,942 2,010

20,999 34

19,25,631 1,956

13,312 20

Uttar Pradesh

17,08,313 87

768 30

16,84,790 116

22,755 1

West Bengal

15,25,773 815

11,370 10

14,96,294 811

18,109 14

Delhi

14,36,093 67

573 3

14,10,471 61

25,049 3

Chhattisgarh

10,01,651 164

2,226 164

9,85,905 327

13,520 1

Odisha

9,72,517 1,703

15,765 65

9,51,049 1,699

5,703 69

Rajasthan

9,53,605 30

268 10

9,44,384 40

8,953

Gujarat

8,24,802 28

274 11

8,14,452 39

10,076

Madhya Pradesh

7,91,778 11

130 8

7,81,135 18

10,513 1

Haryana

7,69,828 32

702 1

7,59,499 28

9,627 3

Bihar

7,24,673 76

480 4

7,14,554 80

9,639

Telangana

6,43,093 657

9,314 77

6,29,986 578

3,793 2

Punjab

5,98,947 65

559 24

5,82,102 84

16,286 5

Assam

5,62,731 1,276

14,499 536

5,43,031 1,791

5,201 21

Jharkhand

3,47,049 27

237 10

3,41,686 36

5,126 1

Uttarakhand

3,41,934 60

672 13

3,33,901 47

7,361

Jammu And Kashmir

3,21,026 160

1,139 15

3,15,511 144

4,376 1

Himachal Pradesh

2,05,499 116

953 30

2,01,026 84

3,520 2

Goa

1,70,810 81

1,082 48

1,66,586 127

3,142 2

Puducherry

1,20,627 97

923 0

1,17,912 96

1,792 1

Manipur

95,824 1,003

10,922 120

83,392 871

1,510 12

Tripura

77,788 376

3,861 107

73,177 267

750 2

Meghalaya

63,014 541

5,456 124

56,510 409

1,048 8

Chandigarh

61,943 5

36 1

61,098 6

809

Arunachal Pradesh

47,142 342

4,301 14

42,617 325

224 3

Mizoram

36,407 1,110

11,610 686

24,657 424

140

Nagaland

27,586 114

1,350 34

25,684 78

552 2

Sikkim

25,856 240

3,117 42

22,406 198

333

Ladakh

20,320 6

64 6

20,049 12

207

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,642 3

41 3

10,597 6

4

Lakshadweep

10,155 6

76 6

10,029 11

50 1

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,531 1

7 5

7,395 6

129

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