No visitors, no carers: Malaysian doctor says PUIs are suffering from loneliness in isolation

Tan Mei Zi
The days are quiet and lonely for many suspected Covid-19 patients who are stuck in isolation wards awaiting their test results. — Picture from Facebook/silver.zahin

PETALING JAYA, April 1 — A Malaysian doctor shared a heartbreaking post on Facebook last week detailing the soul-crushing loneliness faced by patients under investigation (PUI) for Covid-19.

Dr Redza Zainol, who works at the Sultanah Fatimah Specialist Hospital in Muar, wrote that PUIs are not allowed to have any visitors or carers accompanying them as they await their test results in isolation.

Their contact with hospital staff is kept as brief as possible and the medical team usually goes into the quarantine wards twice a day to administer treatment and perform check-ups.

The PUIs then have to wait out the rest of the day alone without human contact to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

“Communication (with the PUI) is only done via walkie-talkie or telephone. There are times where we use a whiteboard and a marker to talk to them through the glass window.

“Only Allah knows the suffering that they’re going through. And as for me, I can only do the best that I can,” wrote Dr Redza.

The paediatric medical officer added that it was hard to keep himself emotionally detached on the job after witnessing the psychological challenges that PUIs have to endure during the quarantine.

Each time he entered the isolation ward, the anxious patients would immediately ask him if they had tested positive for Covid-19.

With a heavy heart, Redza often had to tell them that the results were not ready yet and urge them to be patient.

He also revealed the tear-jerking story of a mother and child in the ward who were separated from their family after being classified as PUIs.

“From the moment we entered the patient’s room, the mother pleaded with us to let the child’s father visit.

“‘Please doctor, help me. It won’t be a long visit,’ she said.

“She kept begging me and soon after, she started weeping. My colleagues and I had to stop ourselves from crying with her too.”

Redza said due to the Covid-19 crisis, no amount of begging could change the situation and the “no visitor” rule had to stay in place.

His Facebook post about the mental struggles faced by PUIs has gone viral with more than 21,000 reactions and over 6,600 shares so far.

Malaysians filled the comments section with encouraging words to send strength to those under quarantine at various hospitals across the country.

“I’m holding back tears even as I’m reading this. This is heartbreaking. Allah, please heal these people,” said Mas Din.

“May all the frontliners be gifted with tip-top health and strength while doing their daily duties,” wrote Suri Omar.

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