ARDAHAN, Turkey  

Fighting on the coronavirus front lines in northeastern Turkey presents many challenges, Turkish doctors told Anadolu Agency.

Ertac Ozeroglu, deputy chief of medicine at Ardahan State Hospital, in a city near Turkey’s border with Georgia, pointed to the “troublesome” fight against COVID-19 in intensive care units.

“This is a psychologically troublesome area for both patients and their relatives,” said Ozeroglu, an anesthetist.

“It’s not a good process. We’re fighting here while wearing our personal protective equipment. It’s really very difficult to work in this equipment.”

Explaining that patients’ relatives want to see their family members under treatment, but this is problematic, Ozeroglu said: “Even when they press us, we’re imposing this restriction for their health.”

“As healthcare providers, we work for the health of our people. We want our people to help us and make our work easier. We can only fight this disease this way. The struggle isn’t one-sided,” he added.

Hard to breathe, hard to watch

Saliha Kazci, an infectious disease specialist, said that she began working in Ardahan just a month before the epidemic started.

The first COVID-19 case in Ardahan was reported just 10 days after Turkey confirmed its first coronavirus infection.

“We experienced a high intensity especially as of June. Our recent cases have been serious ones,” Kazci said.

“This situation of course aggravates our burden. It’s very difficult for us to see the patient breathe with difficulty,” she added.

According to Kazci, especially elderly patients have more expectations from doctors, and she said that they feel obliged to provide psychological support to them in addition to medical support.

Saying that elderly patients tend to adapt better, Kazci said that these patients are happy to try to do exactly what they are told.

Toll of laxity

Zeynep Ozturk, an internal disease specialist at Ardahan State Hospital, also mentioned the recent increase in COVID-19 patients.

“We had emotional moments with the patients,” she said.

“We have young patients right now, they really upset us. We work harder and of course, we encounter patients whose condition is worse,” Ozturk added.

“Especially when we see those who didn’t obey the rules, this situation deeply saddens us,” she said.

As some people were lax in obeying rules to fight the virus, Ozturk said: “We see the return of this [virus] in both the elderly and young people in a very painful way.

“We want our people to pay more attention to the use of masks, especially in public places, and not let their guard down,” she added.

Turkey’s COVID-19 tally on Monday rose to 281,509, with 1,703 more cases over the past 24 hours, according to Health Minister Fahrettin Koca.

He said that 57 more patients lost their lives, bringing the death toll to 6,730, while recoveries reached 251,105.

Across the world, COVID-19 has claimed over 893,200 lives in 188 countries and regions since last December.

More than 27.36 million cases have been reported worldwide, while nearly 18.4 million patients have recovered, according to figures compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University.

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