When the Covid-19 Sinopharm vaccine was launched in the UAE for clinical trials, Medeor Hospital Dubai cleaning supervisor Mostak Ahmed was among the first to take the jab in November.
Even back then, Ahmed had no doubt in his mind about the jab.
“The vaccine helps us prevent the spread of the disease. I may only be a cleaning staff, but I am happy that I was able to help people during this time,” he said.
The Bangladeshi national from Magura district has been a resident of the UAE for 13 years. A father to a two-year-old daughter Jannat-ul- Firdouz, Ahmed last saw his baby girl when she was born. “With Covid, it was impossible to travel home to Bangladesh,” he said.
He has been working in the hospital for the past two years. His responsibilities include managing all housekeeping duties for the hospital, which according to Ahmed, is a task vital to the functioning of a medical facility. He has 25 staff members working under him.
“I need to ensure that the entire hospital is cleaned and disinfected, including the bed-sheet, patient rooms, corridors, out-patient treatment rooms (OTP), and surgical rooms. Every nook and corner of the hospital needs to be spick and span,” he told Khaleej Times. Ahmed’s job begins at 6am and ends at 6pm in the evening. “It’s a 12-hour shift with breaks in the middle. We get one day off per week,” he said.
While hospital cleanliness standards are higher than usual establishments, the pandemic has created a situation where supervisors like Ahmed have become vital, frontline workers. “The cleanliness standards are already very high. With Covid-19, it has risen substantially. Just like doctors and nurses, we too are interacting with patients all the time,” he added.
For example, if an OTP is usually cleaned thrice a day, the current standards mandate that it be cleaned after every patient leaves the room. “There needs to be a cleaner on stand-by at all times. It’s not like we have increased our manpower; however, the amount of work has increased because it is vital,” he added.
In the beginning of the pandemic last year, Ahmed said he was worried about the situation and contracting the disease. The staff wore personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times. “Even now, we wear PPE’s throughout the work day. I change into a fresh set of PPEs twice a day,” he added.
Even during Ramadan, nothing changes for Ahmed. “Everything continues as normal. I leave for the hospital at 5.20am after suhoor, continue work as usual, and leave for home at 6pm.”
While the hospital supplies a snack box of iftar meals to all the staff members, Ahmed sometimes cooks for iftar at home. “The food is simple. Fruit, fritters, biryani, and some snacks. We are three roommates and we prepare some food and snacks sometimes,” he added.
When asked if he would like to spend Eid-ul-Fitr with his family this year, he said, “Right now, the job is more important. I am happy I am able to help and give back to society,” Ahmed said.