Women’s Day: Virologist recounts challenges in caring for first UAE Covid-19 patient

Dubai - Dr Nishi and several other women speak about the challenges they faced amid Covid-19.


Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Mon 8 Mar 2021, 8:40 PM

An Indian virologist said she was in the midst of teaching a course at a Dubai institution when she was alerted to the first Covid-19 case in the UAE.

Dr Nishi Singh who was part of the team that worked on the care of the first Covid-19 patient in the UAE, was recounting her experience of dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic in the UAE at a panel discussion by the Consulate General of India in Dubai on International Women’s Day.

The consultant medical microbiologist, virologist and former chair of health sciences at the Dubai Women’s and Men’s College, Higher Colleges of Technology said she was teaching a course at the Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC) last year when the first Covid-19 case in the UAE was presented to her at the annual Medlab Exhibition and Congress.

“Though I wasn’t directly involved in the care of the patient and cluster, I did discuss the patient with the treating physicians,” said, Dr Nishi.

Shortly after, Dr Nishi came out of her voluntary retirement to assist the Indian diplomatic mission and government health departments to learn more about the deadly Covid-19 coronavirus.

Dr Nishi who has had a long and illustrious medical career in the UAE has been assisting the Consulate in handling patient referrals, their care, screening, isolation, and other challenges related to Covid-19 patients. “One of the biggest challenges during the pandemic was the mental health struggles that several patients were going through,” she said. “I am also involved with consulting and counseling sessions with the Indian People’s Forum.”

She said a major challenge was educating people about the right facts given the infodemic and barrage of fake reports and myths. “The myths at that time were mind-boggling. I would sit reading the entire night and keep reading studies released by the American Society of Clinical Pathology, the Royal Colleges of Pathologists, and even data from my colleagues at the Indian Council of Medical Research,” she said.

Dr Nishi and several other women on spoke about the challenges they faced amid Covid-19. Other speakers included Dr Jayanthimala Suresh, president of the Dubai Tamil Sangam, entrepreneur and social worker; Nargish Khambatta, Principal of GEMS Modern Academy and Rashmi Nandkeolyar, Principal of Delhi Private School, Dubai; social workers Dr Manjula Ramakrishnan and Kusum Dutta.

Seventy-one-year-old social worker Kusum Dutta said her organisation Community and Social Work (CAS) distributed around 20,000 ration kits to the needy and also provided toiletries, sanitisers and masks etc. “Around 300 flight tickets were given away to send stranded people back home. I cannot thank enough our community members, who came out to support with open hearts,” said Kusum.

The Consulate also received a delegation from the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children to discuss issues related to distressed women and children and to explore ways to strengthen the collaboration towards this cause. The mission said it is looking forward to training workshops which will be held in April this year.


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