The ‘white army’ that fight coronavirus

By Amal Al Riyami

Nizwa: Ever since the first new coronavirus (COVID-19) cases were reported in the Sultanate by the end of February, doctors, nurses and all other members of medical and health service teams in the country have been on their toes trying to fight the pandemic. They constitute the first line of defence for the health of nearly 4 million people, despite the chances of contracting the infection.

All hospital workers represent the white army that fights against the virus, as they act as a buffer wall in the fight for the survival of the citizens.

They are not only more susceptible to infection, but also can be a source of transmission to their patients and families. Moreover, infection to doctors and nurses means the loss of an important human force to confront the virus.

According to Tedros Adhanom, Director General of the World Health Organization, some countries have reported that 10 per cent of their health staff have been infected with coronavirus, while concern is growing that it is spreading more and more among members of the medical staff in the world.

The health workers at Nizwa Hospital are also the heroes of the state. Setting aside their fears and ignoring all the difficulties and challenges, every day they engage themselves in their work with enthusiasm to protect the health of others. They said COVID-19 virus is under control in Nizwa and the hospital is equipped to face any emergency and has a plan for such a situation.

Nizwa Hospital has taken a number of measures and precautions to protect its health workers and patients, and treat patients with coronavirus.

One of the procedures used by the hospital is to redirect the visitors, as the hospital only receives emergency cases. Patients with minor diseases are referred to other health complexes, which helps in protecting patients from infection besides reducing the load on the hospital.

A temperature test is done on everyone who enters the hospital. If the person has a high temperature, he/she is directed to take virus tests.

There is no differentiation between expatriate and Omanis in providing treatment. Everyone who is infected with the virus will be asked if he or she has a room for isolation. If the infected does not have a place for home isolation, they are sent the team dealing with institutional insulation, which in turn provides rooms to patients.

The patient is informed of his test result by phone. If it is positive, the directorate team will visit the patient within minutes.

The hospital gives prime importance to the safety of health workers and should wear specially designed dress while on duty. The hospital communicates with the infected persons twice a day to check on their health.

Nizwa Hospital COVID 19 management committee consists of about 20 members. They meet two to three times in a week to discuss all the needs. But they have permanent contact with each other over the phone to know the latest developments. Dr Ali al Busaidi, Head of the Emergency Department, said: “Two emergency rooms, called evaluation rooms, have been set apart for classifying patients. If a person has any of the COVID-19 symptoms, he is transferred directly through a special path so that other patients do not mix with him. He is shifted to the further isolation rooms and he is forbidden to leave the room until he is allowed to do so. A sample of nose and mouth fluids is also taken, which will be given to the central laboratory.”

Dr Ali al Busaidi said that usually 80 per cent of patients do not require hospitalisation while 20 per cent of them, who might have symptoms such as chest inflammation and other complaints, need to be admitted.

Dr Mohammed bin Khalfan al Shuraiqi, Internal medical specialist, said: “Here we have three places designated: the place of regular isolation rooms for stable cases, rooms for medium cases, and rooms for cases requiring intensive care.”

Regarding treatment, he said: “We have a therapeutic protocol as per the

national guidelines for COVID-19. They are given medicines for five days, some for 6 to 10 days. And we follow up the patient’s progress and monitor side-effects of drugs, including the electrocardiogram.”

Jalal al Busaidi, a COVID-19 patient from Nizwa, said: “My symptoms were very mild for five days. The severity of the disease began on the sixth day which continued until the 10th day. I lost my sense of smell and taste, lost my appetite to eat and I already lost 3 kilos of my weight. Thank God, I was isolated in the house with continuous follow-up from the hospital until I recovered completely from the disease.”

This article is exclusively written for Oman Observer