SEOUL, April 9 (Korea Bizwire) — It was April 8 at the Dongsan Hospital in the southeastern city of Daegu, the epicenter of the virus outbreak here.
A nurse dressed in a Level D protective suit and a complement of protective gear looked on stoically.
But before entering the ward, she clasped her hands together in a gesture of solidarity. Holding hands, she could feel the tremor of hope and calls to safely do her job for the day.
More than 50 days have passed since the first coronavirus case was confirmed in Daegu.
Concerns of fatigue are growing as news of the infection of medical staff who were taking care of patients has also been heard.
But for them, concerns and worries for patients and colleagues came first.
“I feel most proud when a patient recovers in the intensive care unit and goes to a general hospital,” a nurse at the Dongsan Hospital said.
“It has been two weeks since I was deployed here, and I am worried about my colleagues who have worked longer than me.”
Another nurse said, “I feel proud when I see empty beds. Severe patients and colleagues working in intensive care units seem particularly troubled.”
As such, front-line medical staff at the center of COVID-19 crisis seem to be relieved as the number of newly confirmed patients decreases and the number of patients discharged from the hospital increases.
However, it is pointed out that medical staff needs to be checked and prepared for a lengthy battle in consideration of accumulated fatigue.
Medical workers who come to Daegu to help out are also steadily decreasing in number.
According to the Daegu Medical Association, a total of 1,274 medical personnel were dispatched as of April 8, including 349 doctors.
More than 2,000 medical workers came to Daegu for support when the novel coronavirus was spreading rapidly.
Most of them have since left, but far more dispatched medical staff have been guarding them, including volunteer medical staff not included in the statistics.
“The number of confirmed patients has decreased a lot, so we are not in a situation where we lack more medical personnel than in the beginning,” a doctor’s association official said.
“There are many long-term hospitalized patients, so we need medical support on a regular basis.”
“More than 1,000 confirmed patients are hospitalized in Daegu alone, accumulating fatigue among medical staff,” official said.
Prof. Suh Young-sung, head of the Dongsan Hospital, said, “I am worried that fighting COVID-19 for a long time will lead to increased fatigue and insensitivity to self-protection will lead to mistakes.”
Seo went on to say that employees “are trying to maintain tension until the end so as not to spread infection within the hospital.”
D. M. Park (firstname.lastname@example.org)