Left Dr Nisath Liyakat, right Dr Unmi Nair
Left Dr Nisath Liyakat, right Dr Unni Nair Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Two UAE doctors who tested positive for coronavirus are now back to work, following a full recovery.

In an exclusive interview with Gulf News the brave frontline heroes said it is business as usual for them as their mission to save lives did not end after contracting COVID-19.

Dr. Nishath Ahmed Liyakat and Dr, Unni Nair, who are both doctors at Zulekha Hospital in Dubai, said they are both back to work after a full recovery and necessary quarantine and both said there was no way the virus would have held them back from doing their duty.

How did they contract the virus?

Liyakat said: “I had examined a child whose parent had tested positive for COVID-19. Most likely I must have checked the patient’s pulse and contracted it. The result was not out for the parent at the time of examination. The child had come to me with fever cough and throat infection. Six days later, I developed high grade fever and body pain. I did the test and it turned out positive for COVID-19.”

Liyakat added that it took eight days for his fever to settle down. He was given hydroxychloroquine and antiviral drugs as part of the treatment. Luckily for Liyakat, at the time of being tested positive, his family was back in India.

Dr Nishath Liyakat
Dr Nishath Liyakat Image Credit: Supplied

“The loneliness, being away from my family killed my confidence. Being a doctor, I knew the complications of COVID-19 and at one point I started imagining the worst case scenario for myself. I have to say the moral and emotional support from my colleagues, management team worked like magic on me. They were like family and I was able to fight back.”

Liyakat is back to work wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE) which includes an apron, masks, gloves and goggles.

“COVID is not a death sentence,” he said. “The majority of the patients recover well. So patients must put their entire trust on the treating team. I frequently wash my hands and avoid touching my face with hands which is very important.”

Nair said it all started when he received a call from the Emergency Room (ER) of Zulekha hospital about a patient in casualty.

Dr Unmi Nair
Dr Unni Nair Image Credit: Supplied

“I was not on call but the patient insisted on seeing me as he had come from my hometown in Kerala. He came to my out-patient department (OPD) with fever. The patient was not wearing a mask.”

Nair said the next day he had a severe backache.

“I decided to go to work but unfortunately I was very tired by end of the day. I started developing low-grade fever, severe back pain and respiratory symptoms,” he said.

After few days he said he rejoined work.

“My nurse Shilpa told me that I looked exhausted. In the meantime, I came to know the Kerala patient I had treated had tested positive for COVID-19.”

I took a test as well and the result came positive.

“I had an exposure to a H1N1 case when I was working in Bangalore, India years ago,” said Nair. “I was treating a young lady with febrile illness on intensive care ventilator support. The next week, I got to know from my colleagues that the second case of H1N1 detected in India was my patient. Soon after that, I developed high-grade fever and I became one among the first five H1N1 cases in India.

“I believe that viruses have always loved me. And I was optimistic about this one too – the novel coronavirus,” he quipped.

“To conclude I would like to convey to all my fellow citizens of the UAE to follow hand sanitisation measures, take necessary precautions of social distancing and ensure use of personal protective equipments effectively.

“After quarantine I am back to work. In the UAE we are adopting aggressive testing strategies to find infected cases. I encourage patients to make use of telemedicine facility started by UAE hospitals. Remember, health care workers are with you in these difficult times. And we will overcome this pandemic collectively,” he added.