Trinidadian Dr Dominic Jaikaransingh, 27, who is one of those frontline doctors in the United Kingdom (UK) amidst the COVID-19 pandemic contracted the disease from one of his patients, but luckily survived.
Jaikaransingh, originally from Maraval, contracted the disease on March 29—months after from since the outbreak where he was placed in the frontline.
Currently based in the Thames Valley (Oxford) deanery, in the UK, Jaikaransingh explained that they have taken a very hands-on approach.
“My official job is in acute general medicine so I did not have a choice to be front line as I already was. Interestingly most junior doctors (from all specialities) that were deemed supernumerary were redeployed to the frontline specialities like general medicine, so I have been lucky enough to work with pathology, obstetrics/gynaecology and surgical trainees who have been moved to the front line specialities.”
“Mentally I took it in stride, as I knew someone of my age and health even if I did contract the virus I should be relatively mildly affected. Physically it has been very demanding as we have been asked to work more hours and some doctors have obviously been asked to work in specialities that are unfamiliar to them. Unfortunately with regards to my own health, I was unlucky that whilst dealing with COVID positive patients I contracted the virus and tested positive,” Jaikaransingh said.
“I first started experiencing fevers, then extreme exhaustion, body pains and headache, the cough was my last symptom to develop which was actually severe enough to make me out of breath. I, however, did not have to be hospitalised and after about 12 days my symptoms had resolved and I was back to work,” he added.
Jaikaransingh, in giving advice, went on to say that unfortunately, a number of his colleagues have also had to be off sick and self-isolate.
“With a small number of nurses and health care assistants being severely affected by the virus and have to be put on respiratory support and even intimated. I think the best advice for anyone is to stay at home and when absolutely necessary to leave home to abide by social distancing, self isolate if displaying symptoms and maintain proper hand hygiene,” the doctor said.
“I know it is difficult for people to not work and difficult for some to have to stay at home and not see friends and family but it is of utmost importance to protect yourself and to protect the people most vulnerable such as the very old and people with underlying medical conditions. Even if you are asymptomatic you may be a carrier and can pass it on to the above mentioned demographic,” he added.
Following what is currently taking place in T&T, Jaikaransingh said he believes that getting accurate information is quite difficult, hence, he added that it is very difficult to get an accurate feel for the actual numbers of those affected and those that have subsequently died given the limited number of tests done and also recent reports of false results or mix-ups in results.
Jaikaransingh’s primary concern would be that given the reported numbers in T&T, “we are hasty to relax the social distancing measures etc and we experience a second spike in infections.”
“Working in general medicine we actually see the patients who are referred by the emergency department in accident and emergency before triaging them to the relevant specialities. So I have seen numerous patients, (very difficult for an exact number), we are also responsible for caring for the patients once they are in hospital, they fall primarily under our respiratory teams however when on call we are the primary carers. Most of our patients have had relatively mild symptoms and have been discharged home to self-isolate, however, we have seen a moderate number of patients (exact numbers are difficult) who have had to be admitted for some level of respiratory support. This has ranged to small amounts of oxygen to more severe cases where patients have been admitted to our intensive care units to he ventilated and/or intimated. Once intimated it has actually been quite challenging getting patients off of respiratory support and subsequently off of oxygen, especially the elderly patients, patients with underlying health conditions (primarily respiratory conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and obese patients).”
“Sadly we have had a number of deaths of which have been especially sad as due to infection control measures families weren’t allowed in hospital to be with their family members in their last moments,” he added.
As a doctor, Jaikaransingh said that one go into the profession with the aim of helping and curing patients, however, he added that “it has been difficult accepting that in numerous cases despite our best efforts we have not been able to save these patients, but again this is what we trained for and we have to put aside our emotion and focus on trying to save the other patients we are responsible for.”
“As I have told some of my friends and family, for medical professionals this is our war, very much like if you join the army, you won’t quit when it is wartime. This is what we signed up for. So, yeah…I would do it again and yes even if that means getting sick myself again I would always strive for my patients and do as much as possible to keep them safe.”
“I want to say a big thank you to all the medical professionals around the world and in T&T. Keep striving, keep working, stay safe and we will beat this,” Jaikaransingh confidently said.