Minju Jung By: Minju Jung
Doctoral Researcher in Politics and International Relations
View profile and Diary

06 Apr 2020 : Names that We should Remember

It is Monday and the first day of the third consecutive week of the lockdown.

Last Saturday and Sunday, we were blessed with sunshine and a gentle breeze, but I had been depressed over the weekend. It was not because I was running low on sweets in my cupboard (though they are important for me to maintain my mood). I felt bad because of the news of the deaths of NHS healthcare workers who lost their lives from the virus.

Last Thursday night, Areema Nasreen, an NHS nurse, died, and, a few hours later after midnight on Friday, Aimee O’Rourke, a nurse too, also died from the virus. Both were in their thirties and a mother of three children. This tragic news was delivered in the daily news briefing on 3rd April. The NHS’ chief nursing officer Ruth May appeared in the briefing to confirm their deaths and to urge people to stay at home.

However, the next day, some people went to the park to enjoy the sun, flouting the plea from the NHS’ chief nursing officer.

Two other NHS healthcare workers also lost their lives last week: Thomas Harvey and Lynsay Coventry. Thomas Harvey was in his sixties and a father; Lynsay Coventry, the late NHS midwife, was a mum, sister, daughter, and grandmother.

I could not hold back my tears while reading tributes from their families.

I think that these four deaths may not be the end of the deaths of NHS workers from COVID-19. There will be more deaths of healthcare workers and much more deaths globally. We don’t know how many healthcare staff have died globally. Similar heart-breaking news was reported in Korea last Friday about the first death of a healthcare worker from the virus. The victim was a doctor in his fifties, infected by his patient.

In the current pandemic situation, we have been highly dependent on NHS healthcare workers. We pray that they can maintain their health at their best by themselves, because the government is slow in carrying out their promises. This will continue until the government provides every healthcare worker (regardless of their positions) with personal protective equipment (PPE), whenever they need one. Such an ‘action’ is needed from the government instead of comforting them with hollow promises in a solemn tone.

But while we may feel guilty about this situation, some people may argue that this is their job and they are paid for carrying out their tasks during the lockdown. If we view the situation from that perspective, let’s remember that we are putting NHS healthcare workers on the frontline of the national response to this deadly virus, without ensuring them with PPE for protection from the virus. While we are complaining about our missed sunbath or having to order Jigsaw puzzles to feel less board inside, NHS workers are saving lives, putting themselves in danger.

The situation looks bleak, and we do not have any other option other than depending on NHS healthcare workers, whereas they are dying from the virus due to more exposure to it.

On that night, when Areema Nasreen and Aimee O’Rourke were facing death in the hospitals, people across the UK joined the second "Clap for Carers". This was in tribute to NHS staff and other key workers dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, such as delivery drivers, supermarket staff, care workers and bin collectors. Once again, a very emotional moment had swept the country.

However, the next day, being a sunny Saturday, a few people went to the park to take a sunbath, and Scotland’s chief medical officer travelled to her second house with her family for the weekend. I’m not sure how to interpret these actions.

I really hope that people don’t forget and be indifferent to NHS healthcare workers who are working hard. They deserve more than a clap for 1 or 2 minutes. We should help/assist them by complying with the lockdown rules to make their tasks easier.

When the pandemic is over, analyses of the situation will give rise to many numbers such as: economic loss, changes in global currencies, the exact number of confirmed cases, and the amount of the government’s bailout. However, we should not focus on these numbers alone.

Instead, I hope people pay much more attention to how many healthcare and key workers there were, and how many of them lost their lives during the pandemic. Also, when NHS workers have difficulties in their working conditions and ask for our help, I hope that people will remember this moment and will not hesitate to help them, and also join their voices to the workers’ ones.

In particular, every government should remember every single healthcare worker who lost their life from the virus, because of their lack of investment in the public health sector, their lack of preparation to face the pandemic, and also their slow response to the same. Those governments have more responsibilities to the families of the victims.

When the UK government begins to think about the budget for the NHS, they must remember what difficulties NHS healthcare workers have faced in coping with the virus and how much the workers have helped even when the government could not provide them with enough PPE.

© 2020, All rights reserved. Views expressed are those of individual contributors. Privacy Policy