KATHMANDU, Sept 12: Dr Lina Devkota, a medical officer at Shukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital in Teku, has been providing treatment to COVID-19 patients almost round the clock while exercising all necessary health precautions for her personal safety.
Two Nepal Army personnel pay the last tribute to two persons dying of COVID-19 before taking their dead bodies to the electric crematorium in Pashupatinath area.
Since the hospital is designated as a health treatment center for infectious diseases, Devkota used to exercise necessary precautions while on duty even in the past. “But we have taken extra precautionary measures to keep ourselves safe from the COVID-19 infection these days,” said Dr Devkota.
Although doctors are risking their lives for the service of others, Dr Devkota has an impression that ordinary people are afraid of doctors as well. “Ordinary people seem to be scared of doctors and nurses in general. People usually fear and run away if they know that I am a doctor working at Teku Hospital,” she further said. “We have followed all necessary health protocols for the treatment [of COVID-19 patients]. This is the reason we are not scared. So, there is no need to be scared of us.”
Jangmu Sherpa, a nurse, checking blood pressure of a patient kept at the isolation ward of Nepal Cancer Hospital, Harisiddhi. She has a 95-year old grandfather at her home. She has not met her grandfather since March amid the fear of transmission of COVID-19 to him.
Nepal Police Inspector Pradip Basnet is on duty on the streets every day following all safety measures to avoid the infection of COVID-19. “We use a catcher machine to take those violating the government’s prohibitory orders in control,” said Basnet. “The main reason behind the use of the catcher machine is to maintain physical distance to minimize the risk of COVID-19.”
Bishnu Maya Pode, 43, collecting garbage in the Tripureshwor area. “What to do by getting afraid of corona? We must work to have two square meals,” she said.
A 39-year old vegetable vendor in Balkhu Vegetable Mart, Dipak Paudel has not stopped his business even in the face of the COVID-19 risk. “I have taken all possible precautions to keep myself safe from the possible infection. I sanitize my hands each time I make a business deal with customers visiting my outlet,” said Paudel, who wore a mask and PPE. He works all day even as he knows that there is an extreme risk of the COVID-19 infection.
Traffic police personnel Tilak Shrestha says, “Many of my friends have been infected with COVID-19. It is not possible to get scared of the virus and stay idle. I have been fulfilling my duties while exercising precautionary safety measures,” said Shrestha, when he was on duty in the Lagankhel area in Lalitpur.
Shanta Kunwar, 45, the owner of a milk depot in Basundhara area in Kathmandu, wakes up early in the morning to start her business activities. “Vehicles carrying milk pouches reach our locality at around 4 am every morning. I then distribute milk to businesspersons and regular customers who visit us,” said Kunwar, who is in this business for the past 16 years.
“Of course, I am also afraid of this virus. But we do not get to eat without working. Hunger is bigger than the disease.” Kunwar shared her plan to continue her business activities by exercising all necessary health precautions.
Lina, Pradip, Dipak and Shanta are just a few representative characters, who are in the frontline to help avail goods and services that ordinary people need the most even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Health professionals and security personnel have not given up their duties even as they have been infected by this fatal virus. They are giving us a message that we should not be afraid of these frontline fighters, but respect them for their service that goes beyond the call of their regular duty. It’s time for us to salute the frontline workers for their immense contribution to our safety and well-being and move on by exercising all possible precautionary measures as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage further.
Photo journalist Najiya Shrestha has been working in the frontline by adopting health precautions even as there is a fear of COVID-19 spread.