Eid Al Fitr 2020: Frontliners give up celebrations to fight coronavirus in UAE

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eid al fitr 2020, uae, coronavirus, frontliners, ramadan

Dubai - Khaleej Times speaks to frontline heroes who will be working their regular shifts throughout the Eid break.

By Dhanusha Gokulan, Saman Haziq

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Published: Sat 23 May 2020, 4:13 AM

Last updated: Sat 23 May 2020, 4:09 PM

While most residents will mark Eid Al Fitr with their families at home, several healthcare workers have willingly sacrificed their celebrations and family time, and chosen to be at hospitals, clinics and Covid-19 isolation centres.
Khaleej Times speaks to three such frontline heroes who will be working their regular shifts throughout the Eid holidays so that the rest of the country can stay safe.
Almas Zulfiquar Parkar, 24, Warsan Covid-19 Isolation centre

Almas was about to secure her first job as general practitioner when the Covid-19 pandemic struck and she decided to give up her job hunt and instead volunteer at the isolation centre in Al Warsan.

The 24-year-old, who is staying on the Warsan staff campus, will be marking this Eid Al Fitr away from her family who lives in Dubai.

"This is the first time ever that I am away from my family on Eid as my services are required here at the isolation centre. Although my parents wanted me to come home but I refused as my being here for these patients is more important than celebrating with my family."

"Being in an isolation centre is very difficult for them, especially on Eid. Most of them are yearning to be with their families. The only way right now we can help these patients is to just hear them out, talk to them and understand their pain."

She added: "The whole point of Ramadan is to help the needy and if I act selfish and go to celebrate with my family then it defeats the purpose of this whole month and festival. Those few minutes we spend with them are very important to keep them happy and hopeful. On the day of Eid, I know we will be getting a lot of such calls from these patients at the centre as the silence of the isolation centre will hit them the most."
Hafis Alavi, 29, registered nurse, emergency department at Medeor Hospital
Hafis Alavi has been a UAE resident for two years. He has been treating Covid-19 patients since the start of the pandemic and not even the occasion of Eid Al Fitr has deterred him from his duty.

Alavi, a 29-year-old Indian national, spends about 14 hours in PPE. He has even spent the entire holy month of Ramadan fasting as well. "On some days, even though I'd break the fast at Iftar, I would only eat a meal at 12am," he said.

Alavi's responsibility includes receiving patients, sampling their tests and administering medicines. "Once they (patients) are out of the critical stage, we move them to the hospital rooms," he said.

Luckily for Alavi, his entire family is back home in Kerala. "I'm living here as a bachelor, so my family is safe," he added. "I consider myself very fortunate that I'm still healthy and have not had any issues," said Alavi.

He is going to be working on the occasion of Eid this year. "It is my duty to work, it is an oath I took," he added. Alavi was hoping to fly home for Eid this year as it has been a year since he saw his family. "It is an extraordinary time for humanity. We are needed now more than ever," he added.
Dr Mohamed Fathi, cardiologist, Sharjah Medcare Hospital
For Egyptian national cardiologist Dr Mohamed Fathi, working on the occasion of Eid is 'just another day in the office'. A UAE resident for nearly 10 years, Fathi said the last time he spent Eid with the family was three years ago.

"I have been working during Eid since my medical residency days. I believe it is normal in our career. Our duty is to serve the people," said Dr Fathi. Since his family is stranded in Egypt due to the global pandemic, Dr Fathi will be alone this year.

Dr Fathi is on call at the hospital this year. "After a month of fasting, people tend to enjoy their Eid by eating a lot of food. This leads to heart-related complications and cardiologists become very busy during this time. Many times, I had to leave my family in the midst of celebrations."

However, Dr Fathi has fond memories of going for Farz prayers with his family members and starting the day by having 'kahk', an Eid cookie made with raisins, dates, and sugar.

The cardiologist expects to be busy at the hospital this year as well. "It is a crucial time for healthcare professionals. It is our responsibility to serve people, whatever be the situation - pandemic or no pandemic."

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