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At the forefront of fighting COVID-19

10 May 2020

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic struck Oman, healthcare professionals, specially doctors, were deep in a huddle preparing for its strategy to tackle the virus and the ensuing crisis.  

Specialists at The Royal Hospital had been preparing since the disease started spreading in China and then to other countries. “The doctors at The Royal Hospital had read a lot and shared notes among each other about the disease. We had to read about the experience of doctors in China specifically, and experiences of other countries too,” said Dr Zaiyana Abdulaziz Ambusaidi, senior specialist and internist, The Royal Hospital, in an exclusive interview with Muscat Daily.  

Dr Zaiyana is one of the experts at The Royal Hospital who dealt with COVID-19 patients admitted in Ambulatory Ward (isolated in the National Heart Center). She is also credited for taking care of the first two COVID-19 patients admitted there. 

She said that the first two patients were admitted in isolation room and had tested positive. “They were under my care. We had a strategy in place to deal with these patients.” 

As per the strategy, the doctor who treated the patient for the first time was to continue for a week. “COVID-19 is a highly contagious disease. We had to be careful with the exposure to the patients, otherwise we would have been the next carriers of the disease. So, in the second week, it was the turn of another doctor to treat the patient. And this system worked well.” 

The lesson learnt from reading and researching on the spread of new coronavirus in other countries came handy when the virus started to spread in Oman. “The first lesson was to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) properly to ensure that you are safe and do not spread the virus. We had lectures on how to use the PPE effectively.” 

This training included when to use PPE, what kind of PPE is necessary, how to properly don (put on), use, and doff (take off) PPE, how to properly dispose or disinfect, inspect for damage, and maintain PPE; and the limitations of PPE,explained Dr Zaiyana.  

Dr Zaiyana said that the first day at work to treat COVID-19 patients was very stressful “as it was like entering an uncharted territory. However, we knew that our patients are more scared and we have to ensure the best care possible, while at the same time taking care of ourselves.” 

“Moreover, sharing our observations as well as the collaborative discussion and support from our colleagues in infectious disease and control and intensive care made things smooth.” 

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