We are doing a rolling rota of 12 hour-shift duties, 24/7 in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) looking after Covid patients. It is emotionally upsetting to look after my colleagues who are fighting for their lives in the ICU. I continue to remind myself to be professional and to provide the best possible care. The hospital has provided us with a number of hotel rooms to take rest in, in between duties. The same picture persists across the UK hospitals.
This morning I received news of the sad demise of a doctor in Bangladesh in Kurmitola General Hospital. Earlier on, I had received a phone call from an anaesthetist at the same hospital and was made aware of the critical conditions of Dr Moyeen Uddin Ahmed infected with the Covid. I tried to advise the anaesthetist about how to manage a patient with the Corona virus on a ventilator as best as I could. I am sorry that he lost the battle with the disease. I salute my fellow frontline fighter Moyeen and express my deepest sympathy for the bereaved family.
I treated the first patient (suspected Covid) admitted with severe pneumonia to our ICU on March 9, 2020. Even without knowing the confirmed diagnosis, we took the appropriate precautions and used full PPEs. The PCR test result came as Covid positive after 31 hours. We were shocked and scared to learn the test result. The infection control department immediately started the process of 'contact tracing'. Unfortunately, the anaesthetist who had intubated the patient was immunocompromised and the Occupational Health (OH) department sent her home; she was later tested positive for Covid. The OH department advised me to continue monitoring my body temperature and carry on as normal. I ran to the hospital pharmacy and bought the very last thermometer from the shop. My wife slept in a separate bedroom for a week. My daughter is in a similar situation—being a doctor, she performed two emergency caesarean section operations without knowing that both patients were infected with Covid. The patients' body temperatures spiked during the recovery period and were tested Covid-positive. Now my wife is very worried and scared for both of us working in the frontlines, constantly fire-fighting.
One week after the first Covid case was admitted to our ICU, the hospital management team suspended all the elective operations except the life and limb-saving emergencies and cancer cases. We converted our five operation theatres and anaesthetic rooms into 15 ICU beds with full critical care delivery facilities. We are using our theatre recovery area for training purposes. We are offering training in donning and doffing, proning and de-proning, safe intubation for hospital intubation teams, scenario practice, and infection control. We are also teaching our surgeons how to perform non-clinical and simple clinical tasks such as writing electronic medical notes and electronic prescriptions in the ICU.
When the UK government declared the shutdown of non-essential work—businesses, travels, hotels, pubs and restaurants, gymnasiums, public meetings and functions, and social gatherings last month, it was widely publicised in the TV, radio, newspaper, social media and elsewhere. The public were asked to isolate and practise social distancing by staying home. The UK government also wrote a letter about the above measures to every single citizen by post. I believe these actions were timely and that the UK citizens complied with the government instructions. The Scottish health minister even had to resign from her post as she had travelled to her second home (non-essential travel) twice during two consecutive weekends.
Meanwhile, the supermarkets have allotted a specific shopping time for NHS healthcare workers and elderly shoppers. At any other time, there is usually a long queue (with two metre distances in between) to enter the supermarkets. I was allowed to enter the market today by bypassing the queue after showing my ID card. I found that there is sufficient supply of groceries in the shop.
Two of our Bangladesh Medical Society members took personal initiative to raise funds through the "GoFundMe" online appeal. They have managed to collect more than 10,000 pounds. They have provided PPEs to healthcare workers including doctors and nurses dealing with the Covid patients in Bangladesh. I sincerely congratulate both members of my organisation for this excellent endeavour. My organisation has also donated 500 pounds to the Gonoshasthaya Kendra's Covid test project in Dhaka.
The number of new Covid cases coming to our hospital remains static. Perhaps it could be the end of the beginning of the Corona crisis in the UK. Stay at home safe and sound.
Md Salimuzzaman Bhuiyan is general secretary, Bangladesh Medical Society in the UK.