I have to arrange tests for patients who come with Covid-19 symptoms, put the houses of positive patients under lockdown, lift the lockdown when they recover, and make arrangements for a funeral when an infected person dies.
I have contracted the coronavirus while performing duty and am now in isolation, but I do not have the opportunity to refrain from work. So, I am still working with patients over the phone.
I work as a medical officer (disease control) at the Naria Upazila Health Complex in Shariatpur.
We have been working since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak as it is an area inhabited by expatriates. We have expatriates in every house here. Since I work as a Covid-19 focal person at this hospital, I have to oversee patients from the time they show symptoms, test positive, until they recover.
We have only one technologist in the hospital. At the beginning of the outbreak in the country, I, along with the technologist, would collect samples going door-to-door.
But soon there was a spurt in the number of patients and at the same time phone calls started coming from different unions of the upazila for collecting samples. It became difficult for us to go from one house to another and collect samples. So, after Eid, we are having patients come to the hospital for giving samples.
However, the number of people coming to the hospital with symptoms every day is much higher than the number of samples we collect. We have to tell those from whom we cannot collect samples to come the next day.
We collect samples and send those to Dhaka. After receiving test reports from there, I lock down the positive patients' houses with the help of the local administration and police. I need to make people understand how to abide by health guidelines and what they have to do in ailment.
But there still prevails coronavirus-related stigma among village people. People still dislike infected people. When someone catches the virus, neighbours maltreat them. We face protests from locals while locking down congested areas similar to slums where many live in small houses.
In the past, our biggest problem was to bury people who died from Covid-19. No one allowed the burial of a person who died from Covid-19 in their neighbourhoods. We tried a lot to make them realise that the coronavirus does not transmit from a dead body, but no one was ready to listen to us.
In many cases, we had to take help from police for the burial of dead bodies. But now, with many people being infected, the social stigma has decreased a bit.
In the meantime, I tested positive myself on June 27. I am currently in isolation in the hospital dormitory and taking care of myself. My colleagues are also helping me a lot.
On the night of July 2, my oxygen level dropped and my condition worsened. But now I am fine. I will resume work after I recover. But I still have to work from isolation.
As it is an area inhabited by expatriates, we have to do tests, provide treatment as well as issue Covid-19 negative certificates for those who wish to go abroad. People here are now dashing for this certificate as it is mandatory for going abroad.
The number of patients in the upazila has increased a lot due to community transmission. But we are doing our best to make people obey health safety guidelines.
I got admitted to Dhaka Medical College in the 2012-2013 session. While doing my internship, I sat for the 39th BCS examination and got selected for the job. I was posted in Naria upazila of Shariatpur in December 2019. I have been here since then.
Before the coronavirus hit, I used to work in the upazila health complex for any disease control, including for vaccination.
Dr Meheraj Mojumder is a medical officer in Naria Upazila Health Complex, Shariatpur