There are doctors who are fighting COVID-19 from the frontlines. They are risking their own and are being hailed as national heroes. But how are their families dealing with the situation?
Tonney Modak's husband Rajib Kumar Saha is a pulmonologist. Currently, he is posted in the coronavirus centre of Dhaka Mohanagar General Hospital.
The couple has a five years old daughter- Praggota. They are expecting for the second time and Tonney is still in her first trimester. Though she herself is a psychiatrist – dealing with complex mental health issues of patients – she is finding it difficult to deal with her own anxiety these days. She needs special care during such a crucial period.
Dr Rajib gets back home every night from hospital despite knowing the risks of the contagious virus only to be with his pregnant wife and little daughter. But they live separately under the same roof. His room, bathroom even the towels are separated.
"Sometimes I feel helpless as I know how contagious the virus is and I might be the one who is putting others at risk. Still, I cannot let my family be alone in such a crucial time," said Dr Rajib.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country, the activities of some doctors have created controversies. Many of them have been criticised for refusing to see patients and closing down their chambers.
But there are doctors who are fighting COVID-19 from the frontlines. They are risking their own lives. They are being hailed as national heroes. But how are their families dealing with the situation?
Tonney Modak said Rajib used to embrace her daughter right after coming home. But these days, he avoids his daughter as much as possible. After coming home he takes a shower and cleans his dresses on his own in a secluded room. Then he meets her daughter for only 15-20 minutes.
Sometimes their daughter says, "Baba does not love me anymore."
Tonney tries to pacify Praggata. But sometimes she loses her temper.
So far 65 doctors have been tested positive for coronavirus and one has died. Unfortunately, only one doctor has completely recovered till now and the number of corona positive doctors is getting longer. The government recently booked 580 rooms at 20 hotels for doctors and nurses, who are in the frontline of the fight against the novel coronavirus.
Mothers suffer together
Shyamoli (not real name) is a young doctor who joined Naogaon Sadar Hospital as a medical officer last December. She used to see patients at the outdoor and emergency unit.
Now she is working in the coronavirus unit of the hospital. She attends at least 50 patients each day.
Shyamoli has a three-year old daughter, while her mother is around 60 years old.
Since both her parents are elderly with multiple health issues, she started staying at a relative's place in Naogaon to avoid risking her family.
Her mother Mamtaz Khanam said although there is no corona patient at Naogaon right now, the risk is there.
"My daughter knows the risks. So when she agreed to serve the unit, I did not know how to react," said Mamataz.
"As a mother I have always tried to provide my daughter with utmost comfort. It is hard for me as a mother to see her like that. It is hard for me to know that she is not safe and is still acting normal," she said.
Shyamoli's father takes care of his three years old grand-daughter Munni.
He said, "Munni misses her mother a lot. When she cries a lot she communicates with her mother over video calls. Sometimes my daughter cannot respond because she is busy with her patients. We have a hard time dealing with our granddaughter then."
"When my daughter got the chance in medical college we were happy. We knew it takes a lot of strength and patience to be a doctor. We tried to provide her with all sorts of support. But we did not know how much patience it takes to be parents to a doctor. Now we are experiencing that," said Shyamoli's mother.
Mamataz paused for a while and said people disappoint her when they ask for sacrifices from the doctors.
"They do not understand that doctors have a family too. What will happen to my grand-daughter if something happens to my daughter?" she asked.
She pointed towards the blame and hatred people spread about doctors.
"My kid is away from home, away from her daughter, parents, in a place where I know she is always at risk. After all these sacrifices it hurts me as a mother, as a family member when people lash out at doctors as we know what it takes to be a doctor in this country," she said.
While Shyamoli's parents are upset thinking about her safety, she, on the other hand, said, is not afraid of death, she is afraid of infecting others.
Uncertainty hovers over families
Many doctors are not serving in the coronavirus units. However, that does not make them safe as many patients hide their medical stories.
A few days ago an entire surgery unit of Dhaka medical college hospital had to be quarantined when a patient hid his corona virus-positive state from the doctors. Some patients do not even know that they are the carriers of the virus.
Anyone working in the hospitals treating patients is under the risk of coronavirus transmission.
The pandemic has put everyone under psychological pressure.
Jahangir Alam Sarker is an associate professor and head of the department of Hepatology, Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College. Though he is in the hepatology department dealing with liver-related problems, they are receiving patients of atypical pneumonia.
They refer those suspected patients to Kuwait Maitree Friendship hospital.
He said considering the lack of awareness among the patients, they all are living with fear.
Doctor Jahangir has his wife and three children at home. His wife Ripa Shireen is a housewife. She used to have a busy schedule with the daughters. Now, when their educational institutions are closed, they spend most of their time praying.
They watch coronavirus updates together while Jahangir is at the hospital receiving patients.
"Our youngest daughter is only six years old. She does not understand the risks much and wants to run to her father whenever he is back from office," said Ripa.
She said they endure everything without complaining. She thinks the doctors are sometimes wrongly blamed and people go way over the line while talking about them.
"A little respect will do for us as watching our loved ones being humiliated is hard on the families," she said.