The Covid-19 pandemic has affected all of us in one way or another. Some of us are mourning the loss of a loved one, while others are trying to make ends meet after losing their jobs or taking a pay cut. The UAE is gradually restoring normalcy even as it reminds residents that the threat is far from over. Through this two-week series, Khaleej Times will feature residents who have endured a loss due to the virus, to remind you that the alarming surge in daily cases is more than just a number. #NextStopZero is a rallying call to get the community to adopt safe practices so as to bring down the infection rate.
Marichrist Pabiano Costales, an Abu Dhabi-based Filipino frontline nurse, was devastated when she came to know that she had passed on the Covid-19 virus to her six-year-old daughter, her 60-year-old diabetic father and 56-year-old mother. All of them had to spend weeks in hospital battling the infection.
Costales, 27, said she had dealt with patients in a screening tent outside the Burjeel Hospital, where she worked, and probably got infected there. The health worker pointed out that at their home, she stayed in a separate room with a separate toilet and was extremely careful about not sharing anything with her family members, including her husband, daughter, her dad, mum, 14-year-old brother and their aunt.
During the holy month of Ramadan in May, she developed Covid-19 symptoms, including high temperature, chest pain and shortness of breath. After Costales was detected Covid-19 positive, she was admitted to the hospital. Her daughter, father and mother also developed similar symptoms and were shifted to the same hospital.
“I felt shattered when I learned that my parents and daughter too were infected. I knew it was my fault since I had been dealing with Covid-19 patients and my family members contracted it from me,” said Costales.
“I didn’t care about my illness and was worried about my family, especially my dad who suffers from a host of illnesses. It was such a difficult moment for me because I felt so tied as I couldn’t help them at such a crucial time despite being a nurse.”
Diabetic dad spent 35 days in hospital
Costales said she, her daughter and mother spent three weeks in the hospital and the doctors took very good care of them until they recovered fully.
However, her father, Alejandro Pabiano, an electronic engineer in Abu Dhabi, who suffered from diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol and had also undergone a kidney transplant, spent 35 days in the hospital, including a week in the ICU.
Pabiano recalled: “I was very scared when the doctors told me that I was infected with Covid-19. As all news channels said coronavirus was badly affecting people with chronic illness and those with underlying medical conditions, I thought I was going to die soon.”
“But thanks to the doctors and nurses who talked to me and gave me courage to fight it out. They kept saying that I will be fine after undergoing treatment and it gave me hope.” Pabiano added that what affected him most was the difficulty in breathing.
Dr Faisal Hamza Dalvi, specialist internal medicine at Burjeel Hospital in Abu Dhabi who treated him, said it was a huge challenge as Pabiano’s condition was very bad due to the various chronic illnesses he was suffering from.
“The man was diabetic and had undergone a kidney transplant. He was on steroids and other immunosuppressant drugs,” said Dalvi. “The patient faced difficulty in breathing and we put him on non-invasive ventilation to support him. His oxygen always dropped down and we had to shift him to the ICU. He was very lucky he didn’t go on ventilators.”
Dr Dalvi added that Pabiano was provided everything, including anti-viral drugs, antibiotics and oxygen until he recovered and was discharged from the hospital after he tested negative for Covid-19.