Dr Towhida Islam is spending Eid alone in her apartment close to Mugda hospital, where she has been working for one year. She lives apart from her parents as a safety measure against Covid-19 infection.
Like most Covid ICU doctors in the country, Dr Islam works for two weeks in a roster system and then quarantines for the next 14 days. "I get tested at the end of my roster duty every two weeks, and I meet my parents with a negative test result," Dr Islam told The Business Standard.
On Eid day, alone but safe, Dr Islam chuckled saying "I made shemai today in the morning for the first time, I don't know how it turned out."
Dr Islam already turned down her parents' request to come visit her. "There is always a risk," she said. "Like I would have to take off my mask when we eat, I would sincerely rather not."
Mugda hospital has been seeing a drastic decline in the number of incoming Covid-19 patients since the last two weeks, similar to all Covid-19 dedicated hospitals in the city. "I currently have 10 beds out of 14 ICU beds occupied," said Dr Islam, a medical officer in one of the two ICU units in the hospital.
This is a much, much better scenario than the peak of the second coronovirus wave, according to Dr Islam. "There had been days when we had 20 patients waitlisted for an ICU bed in a day, we were simply flooded with patients."
Recently I have noticed a younger demographic of Covid ICU patients. "This is probably something to investigate," she added. "Additionally, I also have patients who are having to buy Remdesivir out of pocket as the supply of the antiviral medication is under strain," Dr Islam further added.
On Eid holidays, usually non-Muslim hospital staff covers for their Muslim colleagues; this way some doctors and nurses are able to get the day off to celebrate the festival.
"Our Muslim to non-Muslim ratio is very limited, in fact, we have only one non-Muslim team member, she is covering our Friday morning shift," she said.
Dr Islam will be taking on another 12-hour shift on Friday night. "After such long shifts, sleep takes precedence over everything else. I spend all day resting just to recharge for my night shift," she added.
"My plan is to sleep," said Dr Barshan Bose, just coming off a 12 hour night shift at 8 am on Friday morning at Covid unit, Dhaka Medical College Hospital. The doctor is spending this weekend alone without his wife and parents, who already reached his hometown, Tangail for the holidays.
The dark blue scrubs clad doctor listlessly walked through the corridors of the hospital's old building to his orthopaedic ward.
The assistant register at the orthopaedic department is part of the two-person team chosen from his department to work in the hospital's Covid unit.
The hospital has assigned small groups of doctors from every department to work in the Covid-19 unit through a roster system. Additionally, the hospital functions in a well-structured, segregated system to treat the Covid-19 patients in a different building altogether, according to Dr Bose. "We are currently fully stocked with medicine," he further added.
"We had only 2-3 patients - this includes persons suspected of Covid and Covid positive patients - admitted in the Covid unit in my last shift (which ended at 8 am on Friday), this is a drastically low number compared to March," said Dr Bose, "in general, we are seeing a much lower Covid-19 patient admission since one week at least."
In the past year, Dr Bose worked the Eid shifts too but in non-Covid units. With the second coronavirus wave subsiding and increasing fear of a new wave, the biggest challenge for the doctor, it seems, is the strain on his mental health.
"It does not feel okay to see the mad rush of people gathering in shopping malls and ferry terminals during this holiday," said Dr Bose. The people seen in the news are most likely going to be the same people at hospital doorsteps gasping for air, and "I do not think this is solely the responsibility of the government and doctors alone, the people must do their part too, to curb the virus spread," he added.
For doctors, nurses and healthcare workers, hospital work means that they either live apart from their family or go through an exhaustive list of steps when they reach home as a safety measure to prevent infecting family members.
"I use the hand sanitiser, take a hot shower and change clothes as soon as I reach home," said Kamana Rani Das, a senior staff nurse at the non-Covid orthopaedic wing, DMCH. "We had to wear PPE for four months last year in the general ward, it felt like hellfire," she added.
Ms Das has been working the same job for over 15 years, and she usually takes on the night shift during Eid holidays.
"Our number of personnel improved since 2016, now we have one person to look after one ward as opposed to one person looking after 2-3 wards." Ms Das spent a 12 hour night shift ending at 8 am on Friday, when she had to look after 3 orthopedic wards of 34 beds holding 8 patients.
"I have worked so many years as a nurse, but never did I have this fear inside," Ms Das said. "I constantly worry about keeping myself, my family and others safe and protected against this virus."
Ms Das tested positive for Covid19 on 2 May, 2020 because one of the patients she treated in the orthopaedic ward tested positive. She went home, recovered and joined her work as soon as she was capable in the following month.
This is a routine feat for most doctors in the country, especially for those who work in Covid19 dedicated hospitals.
Once at home, Dr Abdullah Asef Akhond enters through a second door to his apartment which also has a bathroom. A hot shower, hand sanitiser, hexasol and fresh clothes are keeping this doctor's fear of infecting his family under control.
He lived apart from his family for six months last year, and also tested positive for the virus in mid-2020.
On Eid day, in the private Covid19 dedicated hospital, Impulse, Dr. Akhond is feeling optimistic. He is the ICU register of a 54-bed unit, and possibly for the first time since March 2020, "I may have zero patients in the ICU unit by late afternoon today," Dr Akhond told The Business Standard.
Impulse saw a drastic decline in its ICU patients since 2 May, 2021. From a full unit to a nearly vacant ICU, is extremely positive. "I thank the Almighty for this change." Dr Akhond had only one ICU patient last night, who has recovered well enough to be transferred to the Covid ward.
Speaking to Dr Akhon on early Friday morning, "I am excited, I may just get to spend my Eid with my family - a first time with my 1-year-old son," the doctor exclaimed. "If the transfer happens, I will be on call but can go to my 30-minute away apartment and spend time with family."