Dr Nasser Al Abdali Image Credit: Supplied

Saudi Arabian doctor Nasser Al Abdul Ali stands out in Italy’s uphill battle against coronavirus. The 28-year-old doctor went on a scholarship to Italy in 2012. After the Covid-19 outbreak in Italy, he opted to stay there to join others in combating the potentially fatal virus.

“My duty as a doctor is to offer assistance in these tough circumstances,” he told Saudi newspaper Sabq. “I also want to be the best ambassador for my country,” added Al Abdul Ali, who is working in the city of Lodi in Italy’s virus-stricken region of Lombardy. His decision not to join his country’s emergency plan to evacuate Saudis from Italy has earned him plaudits.

“Many people have told me that they thank me in the name of all Italians,” Al Abdul Ali said. “Many of them have expressed their interest in visiting Saudi Arabia after the pandemic is over.”

Al Abdul Ali is among the more than 5,000 Saudi doctors estimated to be on the front lines of the battle against Covid-19 around the world — including 1,345 in the United States, 1,155 in Germany, 736 in Canada, 302 in France and 108 in the United Kingdom.

Working for long hours at the hospital is not the toughest challenge facing the young Saudi doctor. “The toughest challenge is when I have to tell people that their loved ones have died at the hospital,” he told Sabq. “They would burst out crying. Others would be stunned and ask me to check again. Some others would ask for permission to hold a funeral for their dead relatives. But this is banned for fear of the spread of infection,” he said.

Al Abdul Ali noted that the high virus caseload in Italy has kept some health workers from going home and seeing their children for at least three weeks. “I frequently see all these agonising tales. Therefore, I urge everyone not to underestimate this disease in order not to reach this tragic situation,” he said.