WEB 200505 Rakesh Awasthy SD-1588673013802
Rakesh Awasthy, business head, CMS Group of Companies in Dubai, believes that this pandemic has given professionals like him an opportunity to serve the nation. PHOTO Sanjib Kumar Das/Gulf News Image Credit:

Dubai: With the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe, medics, paramedics and law-keepers the world over are risking their lives, day in and day out, in the line of duty. However, along with these frontline bravehearts, there are hundreds of thousands from the tertiary sectors, whose professions do not require them to come into direct contact with the affected persons as a first-responder would. But the danger they court is no less significant as they run the risk of coming into contact with asymptomatic persons who may be ‘silent’ carriers of the dreaded novel coronavirus strain. Such are their job responsibilities that they just cannot restrict themselves indefinitely to a work-from-home regimen. This is the other category of ‘unsung heroes’ whose services to community are steeped in a selfless dedication to the call of duty.

One such professional is Dubai-based Indian expatriate Rakesh Awasthy, business head for air filtration with CMS Group of Companies – a firm that has provided air filtration equipment to a large number of hospitals and medical facilities in UAE in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Gulf News catches up with Awasthy to learn first-hand what motivates him to take up the rigours of a job that may be seemingly innocuous, but can have challenges galore in terms of what one may call operational hazards. Following are excerpts from a free-wheeling chat:

GULF NEWS: So you have been closely associated with the work that your company has been doing in various health-care facilities around the country. What exactly is the work that you have to oversee …

RAKESH AWASTHY: Our company specialises in the manufacture of air filters for indoor air quality. Various establishments in the hospitality industry, shopping malls and other retail and industrial facilities need these filters to improve indoor air quality. However, the most critical segment of our clients comprise health-care providers. In recent months, the demand for air filters from hospitals and health-care facilities has gone up manifold and we had to cater to it. That is why under the current situation, we have a very critical role to play.

Why is this critical? Can you elaborate on this?

In a hospital or in any health-care facility that houses a patient with coronavirus, it is absolutely essential to ensure a negative pressure room. Negative room pressure is an isolation technique used in hospitals and medical centres to prevent cross-contamination from room to room. It includes a ventilation that generates ‘negative pressure’ (pressure lower than that of the surroundings) to allow air to flow into the isolation room, but not escape from the room, as air will naturally flow from areas with higher pressure to areas with lower pressure, thereby preventing contaminated air from escaping the room. The same air has to be cleaned before it can be recirculated back into the room. This is where the role of an air filter becomes crucial. Our company provides these filters, which have an accuracy level of 99.999 per cent.

Given the kind of fear that this pandemic has generated and the speed with which this virus has spread globally, will you think twice if you are requested to make a site visit at some point?

To tell you the truth, every single day for the last month or so, I have been receiving calls from my mother and wife. They keep enquiring about my work, about the current situation. But I can feel the underlying tension because all they want to assess through my answers is how safe am I? And yes, there’s no denying the fact that there is considerable amount of risk in this.

But I also think about all those health-care workers and law-enforcement personnel who expose themselves to this risk daily. It is then that I feel that as an Indian who considers Dubai and the UAE his ‘second home’, I too have an accountability towards our nation, our ‘second home’, that is Dubai and the UAE. So when this nation needs us, we must rise to the challenge and answer the call of duty. This city and this country has given us a lot and there is a tremendous sense of belonging. That sense of belonging has pushed me to work hard even during this pandemic. And I’m really happy that when this nation needed us, in our own small way we managed to do our bit.

Is there anyone in particular who has encouraged you to take on this challenging role as a professional?

I would like to thank Mr Philip George, the chairman and owner of our company, who actually called me once and told me that we must support the health-care sector during these challenging times because there are patients in hospitals and the hospitals need the material. And this is where our real service comes into play. His words encouraged and inspired me to devote myself and my team fully to the task on hand.