It is quite unpredictable as to when they will meet their loved ones the next time
Home is just a few kilometres away from Md Jowel Rana's workplace. But Rana had to tell his mother that he would not be with his family this Eid.
He had actually made the tough call a month ago when he signed up to be a volunteer microbiologist at the first private PCR lab in Rupganj of Narayanganj to detect the novel coronavirus.
"This is my first Eid without them. My parents are old. My little nephew (aged five) and niece (aged two) would rush to me if I went home. I don't want to risk a chance to transmit the virus to them," Rana said on the phone on Sunday night.
So, even if the Gazi Covid-19 Detection RT PCR Lab remained closed for today and tomorrow, Jowel Rana would spend Eid with six other volunteers at the arranged accommodation in a resort.
He had just completed master's in microbiology from the University of Dhaka when the pandemic broke out. The newly set up labs needed technologists with exposure to the polymerase chain reaction testing method.
When the microbiology department started looking for interested graduates and students to join the battle against the virus, Rana grabbed it as an opportunity to serve the nation.
Every day is filled with routine work – sample processing and analysing results in rotation with others. He works from 9am to 6pm and sometimes further late in the evening at the lab.
It is quite unpredictable as to when Rana will meet his loved ones the next time, when he will have a meal with them and play with the children again.
Like him, Dr Zenat Zebin Hossain, a molecular biologist, has been working in the Covid-19 testing lab at Mugda General Hospital. She joined the hospital as a volunteer after the university closed where she used to work in the lab for a foreign-funded project.
"It was a hurdle to put together a skilled manpower. I have the expertise needed to work in PCR labs, and so, when my department was making a list of volunteers I felt motivated to be one," Zenat said.
The Bangladesh Society of Microbiologist submitted to the Directorate General of Health Services a list of 60 volunteers seeking recognition as microbiologists, said Avirup Saha, a volunteer at the coronavirus lab of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University.
Another organisation – Graduate Microbiologist Society – is also striving for the recruitment of microbiologists in labs.
Avirup is on standby to work on Eid day in the lab, not far from his Moghbazar residence. Though he has his family with him, he keeps himself isolated in a room during his time off work.
"There is always a risk of being infected while working at the lab and measures of caution are necessary to keep others safe," said Avirup.
There is no fear of losing a job or a pay cut that is coercing Avirup, Zenat or Rana into living this life of solitude, nor is there any reward or incentive encouraging them to make the sacrifice.
Still, they are not going to give up – not until the deadly virus is defeated.
However, Avirup said, "A recognition from the government of our efforts could help us play a bigger role."