Senior medical officer Dr Sameera al Ghafri is on the COVID-19 pandemic battlefront at the North Mawaleh Health Centre where suspected cases are tested and mild cases treated. A mother of four, Dr Sameera can’t stress enough the need to stay safe in these unprecedented times
Q – How are you coping with situation?
As a doctor or healthcare provider, we need to be ready to serve our patients in any circumstances. This is what we are doing now during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is very stressful these days. Some of us feel sad, confused, scared and even angry at times. But we try to focus on what we can do to help our community.
Q – How do you keep yourself safe from the virus?
As the coronavirus spreads around the world and we struggle to contain it, we as healthcare providers are put at risk each time we see a patient exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. But the Ministry of Health has provided PPEs in every hospital in Oman. It is our duty to make sure we use them properly at all times during our work.
Q – How do you keep your family safe?
This remains on top of the mind for many people in the medical field. We have questions and concerns as we head home to our family and loved ones – what if I become the source of transmission of the virus to my family, how can I isolate myself from my family… thoughts like that! It’s important to take all preventive measures available while we are at work.
The first and probably most important step is not so much what you can do when you get back home but it’s what you are doing at work – that’s really what is going to count here. When I reach home, I make sure my family and everyone else is in separate rooms to avoid direct contact. I proceed to get out of my work clothes. I make sure I come out clean, ready to join my family but I still try to maintain social distancing with my family all the time during this unprecedented period.
Q – How do you keep your and your colleagues’ morals and spirits up in these difficult times?
Worries and anxieties about COVID-19 and its impact can be overwhelming. Social distancing makes it even more challenging especially at work, but our ministry has provided us with protective gear. This no doubt is an encouragement for us. We communicate and motivate our teams and we focus on the positive impact of our work – we are screening and testing patients which is the first and an important step in this fight against the virus.
Q – What is the most difficult part of the fight against this virus?
As we continually learn more everyday about the new coronavirus or COVID-19, it’s important to understand something basic – the most difficult part is when a person comes to the hospital late. That is why people are advised to come for a check-up whenever they start showing the symptoms of COVID-19.
Q – Describe your day at the health centre?
With so many of us playing our role in helping reduce the spread of the pandemic by just staying at home, there is increasing curiosity as to what it is like for the doctors and healthcare workers going into the hospitals everyday. Please understand the fact that healthcare providers are making difficult decisions in this new and fast-moving context.
Q – What is your message to COVID-19 patients and people in general in this time of crisis?
My message to COVID-19 patients is that they should not lose hope because this disease is curable. There is a big chance of recovery – stay calm in your home during the treatment, take good care of yourself, eat regularly, exercise if you can, get enough sleep, avoid all sources of stress and please follow the doctor’s instructions.
My advice to people in general is to abide by the government instructions repeated on TV, radio stations and other media – these should not be ignored. By this, we will help contain the pandemic and be able to clear it completely. So stay home and stay safe.