Hospitals beset by gloom as COVID-19 subdues Eid celebrations

  • Obaidur Masum, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2020-05-25 17:29:52 BdST

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A patient fled a ward at the Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital in Dhaka as the health workers were preparing to collect samples from him for coronavirus test. Photo: Asif Mahmud Ove

When Aminul Islam tested positive for the novel coronavirus on May 24, he was immediately admitted to the Bangladesh Kuwait Government Friendship Hospital specialising in treating COVID-19 patients.

He still has a fever but no other COVID-19 symptoms are discernible. 

“You’re bound to feel bad when you stay away from your family on Eid. And I’m tense too. You can meet your family if you’re hospitalised for other illnesses, but this disease has separated me from my loved ones,” said Aminul, a resident of Dakshinkhan.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the atmosphere in hospitals across the country.

Typically, hospitals prepare special meals on Eid day as health workers, patients and their families celebrate the day together.

The meals have been cooked up this year too but the usual festive cheer is missing with everyone eating in isolation.

Usually, coronavirus patients are kept isolated at hospitals while health workers attend to them donning their personal protective equipment.

The highly-contagious nature of the disease demands that health workers treating COVID-19 patients avoid contact with their families in line with the social distancing requirements.

Md Ibrahim, a medical technologist, was transferred to the isolation unit of Bangladesh Kuwait Friendship Hospital when he contracted the coronavirus infection two months ago.

He left his family at home and his youngest child was born shortly after he arrived in Dhaka.  He finally got to see his newborn child at the end of the mandatory quarantine period after recovery.

“It's hard to describe how it feels when your duty requires you to leave your small child and entire family behind,” an emotional Ibrahim told bdnews24.com.

“My parents are old and fragile. They don’t have anyone else to depend on, and now I’m having to stay away from them. I feel bad but even then I’m proud of being able to help people by working for the COVID-19 patients.”

As many as 104 COVID-19 patients were admitted to the Bangladesh Kuwait Friendship Hospital on Monday, the day of Eid-ul-Fitr, according to the hospital’s Coordinator Dr Shihabuddin.

Special meals were arranged for the patients, doctors and medical workers to mark the day, he said.

This is a different Eid, one where all the hospital's doctors have turned up for duty in the face of coronavirus crisis.

“We cancelled the usual duty roster so everyone has to work. But we've arranged special meals and handed gifts to the patients and medical workers.”

Eid this time has been the same as any other day at Kurmitola General Hospital since the novel coronavirus broke out in the country, said one of its doctors, asking not to be named.

“Usually, on an Eid day, people get admitted to the hospital only if they are severely ill so the hospitals are mostly empty. But this year, there isn't a difference between Eid or any other day. The only difference is that we ate some good food!”

Narsingdi District Hospital, a dedicated COVID-19 treatment facility, admitted 15 patients on Monday.

One of them, Parveen Begum from Bholanagar, Narsingdi contrasted the gloom that has shrouded Eid this time with the festivities that generally mark the occasion.

Parveen, who is usually busy running household chores on Eid, was stuck in the hospital and barred from meeting her loved ones.

“I am here in the hospital while thoughts on my family. I never imagined that I'd have to spend Eid like this,” she said.

The hospital has made arrangements for a feast to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr, said ANM Mizanur Rahman, a resident physician. The local administration and police are also supplying food to the patients, he added.

Joy Bhuiyan, a video journalist in a private channel, was one of the 23 patients diagnosed with the coronavirus in Noakhali Central Hospital on the Eid day. He was exposed to the virus in the course of his professional duties and now his family is at risk of infection.

“As members of the media, we try to relay information to the people. We’re the ones who work on every Eid, capturing video footage of the prayer service and spending a busy day on the whole. But this Eid, I’m almost in my deathbed. My physical condition has improved a little, though I’m worried about my family.”

Bangladesh marked another grim milestone on Monday after a single-day record 1,975 new COVID-19 cases were detected across the country while the death toll crossed 500. The tally of infections currently stands 35,585, according to government data.

More than 1,700 medical workers, including 830 doctors, have been infected with the virus as of Sunday, according to a tally by the Bangladesh Doctors Foundation.