With country reporting 2,73,810 new COVID-19 cases and 1,619 fatalities in the last 24 hours, the continuous steep surge in COVID-19 cases in India is posing a serious challenge for health experts, who are constantly shuffling between the role of a doctor and the trusted buddy of a patient suffering from the novel coronavirus.
Doctors, health workers, sanitation workers are once again skipping going home and extending their working hours to cope up with the rising demands.
Doctors, however, are becoming a tremendous support system of the COVID-19 patients and in order to make them feel good, they can at times be seen singing songs, dancing and trying every means to make the upset patients feel comfortable on social media.
While speaking about their condition, young doctors say that although their work hours have increased and at times they feel low as well, their responsibility at present is huge and they also consider it as their duty to keep the patients happy and energetic.
Dr Arminder Singh Bali, Assistant Professor, Department of Cardiovascular Radiology and Endovascular Intervention, AIIMS Delhi, said, "Every doctor is doing six hour shifts with a PPE kit on because we have to cover ourselves from head to toe, including the eyes. We can't even drink water or urinate. The doctors who are not in the COVID-19 ward duties and working at the trauma centre are also under extreme pressure."
"Wherever is required, we are trying to help the patients by listening to their woes, by sharing their sorrow and trying to make them laugh. After all, being happy makes you feel good. Also if someone doesn't have phones we give them our phones that they can have video calls with their families," says Dr Amarinder.
Top health experts are stating that the severity of the virus is much more during the second wave, hence the percentage of infected is increasing.
Another young doctor, Ashiya Malik, senior resident, Spring Meadows hospital in Delhi, said, "Once the patient is admitted we become their family members. From changing their clothes to make them eat food, we, along with the nursing staff, do all things that are required. If the patient is a kid, we become their parent-cum-friend for those few days. Our duties are not restricted till being a doctor and prescribing medicines, it's much deeper."
Doctors said even when they know the reality, the actual situation needs to be tactfully concealed from the patient and keep him/her encouraged about life beyond the hospitals and sick beds.
Another doctor, on condition of anonymity, said, "After our official duty many of us are not returning to our houses anymore because of the probability of infecting others but the phones are buzzing constantly. After the hospital, I personally have to answer so many calls coming from my relatives seeking suggestions, I clearly cannot remember anymore when was the last time I slept for a stretch of three hours altogether."
Last year in India several doctors, healthcare workers died after contracting the virus.
This year, since the second wave has struck India, doctors in several hospitals have already fallen sick while performing their duties. The intense severity of coronavirus is posing a serious challenge to the country's health infrastructure with a continuous decrease in the availability of hospital beds, oxygen etc.