Doctors' one plea on National Doctors' Day: Please stay home

National Doctors' Day is usually celebrated in the Maldives with much grandeur, and is usually a happy and joyous occasion. However, this year, the situation is different. Today, the world is facing an unprecedented outbreak of a dangerous illness. The whole nation is in a precarious situation with the sudden increase in the number of local transmission of COVID-19 pandemic. In this critical situation, doctors do not need a gift or a grant festival as acknowledgement for their valuable services. While there is no denying that they deserve immense gratitude, today they have just one wish and continue making only one plea: Please stay home and listen to their advice.

Doctors have been warning the public on the dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the importance of practicing social distancing to effectively curb its spread since the virus first began spreading in the world. However, the better part of the public had not paid any heed to the warnings, and continued to go about their life without much change to their habits. As a result, the country confirmed its first case of local transmission on Wednesday, and the number has since increased to 15 over the past three days. The country's current situation is a direct result of the public's defiance of the advise of healthcare professionals.

Sharing their sentiments on the National Doctors' Day marked annually on April 18, today, doctors pleaded with the public to listen to their advice and take the necessary precautions against the virus before its once again too late. They are begging the country to adhere to the instructions given by authorities. While the occasion was marked festively in the past, this year, today, the country is in a grave situation. And this year, instead of celebrating the day dedicated to acknowledging their services, the doctors are on the frontlines, tirelessly trying to save lives.

A doctor working at the main government hospital, Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) said, this is not the time to hesitate and lament over mistakes but the time to be brave and combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The doctor conveyed a message to the public on the occasion of the day as well as regarding the current situation.

“I urge you to stay at home. While staying at home, please ensure that the household is child friendly. Pay attention to everyone’s physical as well as psychological wellbeing. Do report domestic violence. If someone has a chronic illness, please do make sure there is enough medication on hand”, said the doctor.

The doctor further provided information about the nature of the coronavirus.

“80% of the patients infected with the virus will have mild symptoms, and they will recover even if no treatment is provided. However, 20% of the cases will have severe symptoms, and out of that, 9% of patients’ condition will deteriorate. If you are always feeling restless, please do not follow the news on this pandemic. Be engaged in more prayers, supplications and invocations”, said the doctor.

Another doctor said the best way to thank them today is to stay at home and to follow their instructions. They are risking their lives to save the lives of others, leaving their children at home. Therefore, the public can also do their job by staying at home.

The pandemic has now spread in the Maldives after the detection of a large numbers of cases over the past four days. Following the confirmation of community transmission and identification of three different clusters, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) has stated that it is highly likely there will be an escalation of the new cases in the upcoming days. Health experts are continuously working on contact tracing and identifying infected patients, and taking measures to flatten the curve.

A Maldivian health expert Dr Sheena Moosa said, if there is a sudden upsurge in the infection rate in the Maldives, the country does not have the capacity to provide treatment to such a large number of patients. She warned about the horrific reality of having to part from the loved ones forever if the public does not abide by the authorities’ instructions.