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Let`s encourage medical personnel fighting against MERS

Posted June. 18, 2015 07:23,   


Two of the eight newly confirmed patients of the Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (MERS) are a radiographer at Samsung Medical Center and a resident doctor at Kyung Hee University Hospital at Gangdong in Seoul. The radiographer was infected while taking X-ray images of a MERS patient, and the resident doctor contacting another MERS patient at an intensive care unit. Among a total of 162 confirmed patients, 15 are medical personnel and seven others are caregivers. Combined, they account for 13.5 percent of the total. As MERS is spread through sneezes, coughs, and droplets of saliva and mucus, the probability of community infection is extremely low. However, medical personnel who have face-to-face encounters with patients are constantly at the risk of being exposed to the MERS virus.

Hundreds of medical personnel have been quarantined in their homes or sickrooms, living in a virtual prison. Medical personnel who treat or sort out MERS patients are waging a war every day. They have to check patients` conditions frequently under the circumstances in which their own safety is not guaranteed even in protective suits and masks and double gloves and overshoes. They often work overnight if a patient is in a critical condition. Inside the protective suits, they are covered with sweat. However, they cannot take the suits off any time because the gears are only for one-time use and it takes more than 10 minutes to put on a new one. Medical personnel are humans, too, and also have fear of death. Nevertheless, they are doing their duty out of their sense of vocation as doctors and nurse who took the Hippocratic oath or made the Nightingale Pledge. In them we see the hope of overcoming MERS.

What they cannot endure is the cold eyes from people around them who fear that they might have been infected with MERS virus. It is absurd that some people demand medical personnel`s children to be kept out of school or alienate their family members in everyday life. It is shameless to ostracize those fight MERS and their families, if not encourage them.

In a sense, the largest group of MERS victims is hospitals and their medical staff. Still, hospitals are being criticized for having spread MERS, and medical personnel are treated like virus carriers. It is surprising that ostracism against children of medical personnel happened at schools that are supposed to be the most educational. In a society where the mechanism of exclusion is working, people would conceal their symptoms all the more because they are afraid of other people`s eyes. That would increase the chances of MERS patients spreading the virus to more people, jeopardizing the entire society. Now, when the MERS crisis is at its crest, is the time to express warm consolations and encouragement to medical personnel fighting the epidemic and their family members.