Dr Saiful Islam Saif, a medical officer in Brahmanbaria, came into contact with the first Covid-19 patient in Nasirnagar upazila under the district back in April.
He then underwent 14 days of quarantine, and continued to perform his official duties with dedication using his mobile phone during that period.
Resident Medical Officer at Nasirnagar Upazila Health Complex, Dr Saif has a one-and-a-half-month-old baby at his home in Dhaka, but he is working tirelessly on the frontlines to contain the threat of Covid-19.
His duties include: raising awareness among the people, collecting testing samples, supervising the isolation ward, and providing healthcare. Dr Saif is not only keeping himself motivated while tackling the deadly novel coronavirus pandemic, but he is also encouraging other doctors and nurses to do their best.
The upazila health complex has collected 167 testing samples from Nasirnagar so far, and five people among them have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Dr Saif is a native of Cumilla, who lives with his family in Banassri area of Dhaka and works in Brahmanbaria. He has two sons – Raiat Al Islam Azraf is three and half years old, while Raian AL Islam Arham is one-and-a-half-months old.
Dr Saif knows the dangers of working on the frontlines, and he fears for the safety of his family. Despite such concerns, he has been working to curb the pandemic, without a break, for the last month.
Speaking with The Business Standard, Dr Saif said, "On April 4, Shah Alam, 35, the first Covid-19 patient in Nasirnagar, visited my chamber with a fever. He had returned home from Malaysia on March 18, and was suffering from a cough. He, however, kept his health condition a secret while visiting the health complex. He did not even tell me he was a returnee from abroad.
"He underwent a number of tests, and later died on April 7. Shah Alam's sample was tested for novel coronavirus, and the results came back positive on April 12. Through him, four other members of his family became infected with Covid-19."
Dr Saif continued, "I am working in an important position at a health complex. I have been working, without a break, since the pandemic started in the country. Whenever there is a call, I head out immediately for the health complex – even at night.
"If I try to keep my distance in fear of the novel coronavirus, junior doctors and nurses will lose their motivation. I am keeping their spirits up by giving them the courage to continue."
He added, "My family consists of my mother, wife and two sons. The last time I visited my newborn son was after his birth. Sometimes, I feel lonely when I think about my wife and children."
"However, I continue to push forward for the sake of all Covid-19 patients. My only thought right now is to serve the people. My family worries a lot about me, because I live alone in Nasirnagar."
Dr Saif further said, "If I wanted, I could have gone home. But I did not do that. Our country is facing a crisis, and we do not have the option to ignore it. I swore an oath to serve the country, so I cannot leave my workplace now. As I am a resident medical officer, I worked via my mobile phone even when I was under quarantine.
"I and Health and Family Planning Officer Dr Abhijit Roy are supervising all activities at the health complex, including the collection of samples for testing and the isolation of patients."
The resident medical officer continued, "We have a five-bed isolation ward at the Nasirnagar Health Complex. Four novel coronavirus-positive family members of Shah Alam, who had earlier died of Covid-19, were initially kept there.
"However, they were later referred to the Brahmanbaria Chest Disease Clinic's isolation ward, because this is a haor [wetlands] area. Working to stem the tide of Covid-19 in Nasirnagar is a challenging job, because the people in this region are not very health conscious."
Dr Saif added, "However, we are raising awareness among the people by changing their point of view. We are working with support from the local administration and law enforcement agencies in this regard."
Medical Officer Dr Shafiqul Islam of the Nasirnagar Upazila Health Complex said, "Dr Saif is a source of inspiration for us. He is giving us the courage so that we can work without fear. He is holding regular meetings with us to discuss the overall Covid-19 situation and issues relating to healthcare.
"He is also supervising the isolation of those who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus," he added.
Nasirnagar's Health and Family Planning Officer Dr Abhijit Roy said, "Dr Saif has been performing his duties with the utmost confidence and dedication. He was twice tested for Covid-19 and both results came back negative."