The novel coronavirus has exacted a brutal price from India – 3,417 people died on Sunday and around 2.2 lakh have died over the past 15-odd months. Nearly two crore people have been infected since the first case a student in Kerala – was logged in January last year.
Behind the numbers, the pandemic has deeply affected medical professionals – doctors, nurses, healthcare workers and med students – who have fought, and continue to fight, the virus.
What is sometimes overlooked is the immense burden placed on them as they work for days without break and spend hours in a protective suit that leaves them physically spent.
Dr Sohil Makwana, a young doctor from Gujarat, highlighted that burden in before-after photographs shared online; photos that have been retweeted over 17,000 times in a few days.
“It was a very hot and humid day… I was in the PPE doing my rounds and then later in my room writing up case papers. I thought to take the pictures to show how difficult this is for doctors and healthcare workers,” Dr Makwana, who works at Gujarat’s GMERS Medical College, told NDTV.
The first of two images show Dr Makwana wearing the PPE kit.
In the second, after he has removed the protective gear, he is seen drenched in sweat… his shirt soaked… and his hair dishevelled.
“Proud to serve the nation,” he tweeted.
Talking on the behalf of all doctors and health workers.. we are really working hard away from our family.. sometimes a foot away from positive patient, sometimes an inch away from critically ill oldies… I request please go for vaccination.. it’s only solution ! Stay safe. ????????
— Dr_sohil (@DrSohil) April 28, 2021
Speaking to NDTV, Dr Makwana spoke about the strain on healthcare workers, saying that while they’d expected a storm of Covid cases in the second wave, they were faced with a tsunami.
He also spoke about the mental stress on medical professionals, who not only work for days at a stretch, but also cannot go home to their families for fear of spreading the virus.
“We have struggles like… we cannot stay with family and have to stay at rooms on campus. You can see (he points to his spartan accommodation) I have nothing here… also, my parents are in Ahmedabad. Usually I go every few weeks but now I can’t,” he said.
Dr Makwana also highlighted the additional pressure his female colleagues, particularly those with young children at home, faced.
“For women who have children at home, this is even more difficult… it is very difficult to manage a family and emergency duties, and women are always given extra duties anyway,” he said.
The brave doctor finished with a fervent appeal when asked how we can overcome this pandemic.
“Every one knows the solution – isolation and vaccination. We need to stay at home to prevent something more catastrophic… a third or even fourth wave,” he said.
Last week Dr Makwana made a similar appeal.
“Talking on the behalf of all doctors and health workers.. we are really working hard away from our family.. sometimes a foot away from positive patient, sometimes an inch away from critically ill oldies… I request please go for vaccination.. it’s only solution ! Stay safe.”
His tweets and messages have received widespread praise on social media.
People have been saluting the sacrifices that healthcare professionals have been making in the war against the virus. However, Dr Makwana was quick to play down any thoughts of celebration.
“Have got an overwhelming response (to his pictures) but not the time to celebrate. People are dying everywhere.. have seen grandmothers and grandfathers die… youngsters also. Would like to tell all young people to please, please take this (the coronavirus) seriously.”