Stay at Home For Us, Plead Doctors. What Will It Take for Us to Listen?


Stay at Home For Us, Plead Doctors. What Will It Take for Us to Listen?

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

In every battle, there is a frontline; and in the fight against the global coronavirus pandemic, the men and women on those frontlines are the healthcare professionals. These doctors, nurses, paramedics, and others are the ones putting in the extra hours to combat the spread of the extremely contagious Covid-19. And as they make sacrifices for the greater good, they are asking us to do our part as well. It’s simple: Stay at home.

Yesterday, the photo of a mask-wearing doctor from AIIMS in New Delhi went viral on Twitter, after PM Modi endorsed his message of “I stayed at work for you. You stay at home for me.”

This is a message being echoed by doctors across the world, who are urging citizens to practise social distancing in order to “flatten the curve”, that is, limit the spread of the virus to manageable levels. It’s a reminder of medical professionals’ humanity, and how this crisis is hitting them even harder than those who have the luxury to self-isolate in the comfort of home.

This worthy message started to spread after a selfie of one Dr Ahmed Rabea carrying the sign went viral.

It’s a message that’s caught on not only in India but across the world, crossing barriers of borders and languages (much like Covid-19 itself).

Even before this message went viral, the sentiment has been constant. Last week, an Instagram post by an Italian nurse, Alessia Bonari, was shared extensively, after she showed the bruising left on her face from wearing protective gear for a marathon shift in the hospital while dealing with covid-19 patients.

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Sono i un'infermiera e in questo momento mi trovo ad affrontare questa emergenza sanitaria. Ho paura anche io, ma non di andare a fare la spesa, ho paura di andare a lavoro. Ho paura perché la mascherina potrebbe non aderire bene al viso, o potrei essermi toccata accidentalmente con i guanti sporchi, o magari le lenti non mi coprono nel tutto gli occhi e qualcosa potrebbe essere passato. Sono stanca fisicamente perché i dispositivi di protezione fanno male, il camice fa sudare e una volta vestita non posso più andare in bagno o bere per sei ore. Sono stanca psicologicamente, e come me lo sono tutti i miei colleghi che da settimane si trovano nella mia stessa condizione, ma questo non ci impedirà di svolgere il nostro lavoro come abbiamo sempre fatto. Continuerò a curare e prendermi cura dei miei pazienti, perché sono fiera e innamorata del mio lavoro. Quello che chiedo a chiunque stia leggendo questo post è di non vanificare lo sforzo che stiamo facendo, di essere altruisti, di stare in casa e così proteggere chi è più fragile. Noi giovani non siamo immuni al coronavirus, anche noi ci possiamo ammalare, o peggio ancora possiamo far ammalare. Non mi posso permettere il lusso di tornarmene a casa mia in quarantena, devo andare a lavoro e fare la mia parte. Voi fate la vostra, ve lo chiedo per favore.

A post shared by Alessia Bonari (@alessiabonari_) on

In her post, Bonari mentioned how she was also afraid for her own health, like many of her colleagues, but they would not let that get in the way of treating their patients. Doctors treating Covid-19 patients have succumbed to the virus in Italy and China; in India doctors have tested positive.

Bonari also highlighted how medical professionals are not only dealing with worried patients, but also tight funding and sub-par equipment. In fact, #GetMePPE (PPE stands for Personal Protective Equipment) is a trending hashtag among medical professionals in the US.

An American nurse, Ashley Barton, put out another post urging people to stay indoors titled “It’s not about you”, which made clear the dangers of ignoring the conventions of social distancing at this time.

It is clear doctors across the world are in agreement that staying indoors and minimising the spread of contagion is a top priority. So sit on the couch and fire up Netflix, and if anyone complains, tell them it’s what the doctor ordered.