Taken for granted, nurses are overworked and underpaid

Nurses Coronavirus
Nurses in India are often overworked and continue to toil because they cannot afford to give up the job. | Image - Eunice Dhivya

“I mutter a prayer every time I enter the COVID-19 ward in the hospital,” says Saroja (name changed), a 49-year-old nurse on COVID-19 duty in a tertiary government hospital in Chennai.

The fear of contracting the virus lingers although she has 25 years’ experience and like nurses across the country, she has gone through the drill about precautions to be taken for coronavirus. And this is not her first tryst with infectious diseases.

“I have spent many years taking care of dengue patients in the fever ward. But nothing can be as distressing as this,” she says, adding that nothing can instill confidence in her. “I inadvertently think about my daughters, my husband and my family — what will they do if I get infected?”

When the first case in the city was reported and the patient was admitted to the hospital, Saroja remembers the anxiety nurses like her felt. “We had seen the havoc the infection wreaked in other countries. Naturally, I was very worried about how it would pan out here,” she adds.

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