Self-isolation and stay-at-home quarantine approaches have impacted everyone’s daily lives amid the coronavirus outbreak, yet the case of healthcare personnel and their families is another story entirely, experienced more like an obligation than preference.

Meliha Farjad, 42, is among those healthcare workers who divide their personal life into two parts – before and after the coronavirus – as her family life has completely changed since the start of the outbreak in Turkey.

“Although I’m currently not working with the COVID-19 patients at the moment, I work at a medical facility and must be ultra-cautious in order not to infect my beloved family with this virus,” said Farjad, a nurse with 22 years of experience.

Farjad said she is following medical regulations to the letter – wearing a mask, protective shield, and protective suit, and changing protective gear on a regular basis – and had developed her own “family protective” approach upon arriving home.

“My husband prepares my clothes and leaves them all near the bathroom when I’m home. I take a shower right away and throw my clothes into the washing machine immediately,” she said.

The nurse is aware that such measures might not be adequate to eliminate the risk of infection within her family, so she has adopted additional measures such as limiting her contact with her husband and daughters.

She went on to say that her husband had taken over the “traditional mother role” at home and started cooking for the family and taking care of the children, adding she barely interacts with her family as they do not even hug each other anymore.

“There is this undeniable psychological effect of the pandemic on our daughters as they can’t fully grasp the idea of taking virus measures such as avoiding physical contact. After all, they’re still very young, but a mother has to be responsible at such times.” 

Risk to family

Ahmadfarid Farjad, her husband, said there were tangible reasons behind his wife’s cautious approach, adding he had a coronary condition and was vulnerable to the outbreak.

“This virus poses a great risk to me, for I previously suffered two heart attacks and I’m a diabetic patient,” said Ahmadfarid, who works as a translator. “One of our daughters was also diagnosed with asthma.”

“For these reasons, we’re really cautious. I sleep in a separate room in an effort to avoid being infected,” he said. “Our home life has completely changed for the past two or three months. Our kids and I have been psychologically affected just like my wife. But I’m doing my utmost best to take over responsibilities now,” he said.

He said he became the “mother” of the family as he took over responsibility for chores at home.

“Well, it’s clear that the cleaning standards have declined for a while, but my efforts are better than nothing, right?” he joked.

“Active [virus] cases are dropping every day, and the death rate has declined in Turkey. God willing, if everything continues like that, I hope daily life will start to normalize in the days to come,” he added.

To date, Turkey has announced over 153,500 coronavirus cases, nearly 115,000 of which have fully recovered. The death toll stands at 4,249, while the number of patients in intensive care units is 820.

After originating in China last December, COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has spread to at least 188 countries and regions, with Europe and the US currently the worst hit.

The pandemic has killed more than 333,000 people worldwide, with over 5.1 million confirmed cases and more than 1.95 million recoveries, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University of the US.

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