United states: For caregivers healed, the fear of the coronavirus remains

États-Unis: Pour les soignants guéris, la peur du coronavirus demeure

WASHINGTON | After three weeks in quarantine, Justin Jara returns Tuesday to work in their hospital in the urban area american from Detroit, but he does not really believe the test according to which it has antibodies to the new coronavirus.

“I’m afraid to return to work”, he told AFP. “A doctor told me that I was immune, but this is not yet proven scientifically”.

As Justin, a nurse of 26 years, tens of thousands of caregivers in the United States and in the world, contaminated by the virus responsible for the COVID-19, and recovered, are unaware of what they stand still. Nothing that the United States, at least 9 000 health care workers are part of the confirmed cases.

They are unaware of their level of risk, because the virus, SARS-CoV-2, which remains without proven treatment and no vaccine, keeps its mysteries : cause of the long-term effects on the lungs, or even kidneys and other organs ? Can people be reinfected ? And in the case of immunity, will last a season as for the common cold, or for life as for the measles ?

Caregivers do not have the option of teleworking. They are expected to be on the front : return to the same place where they have been contaminated.

Justin fell ill at the end of march, at a time that seems so ancient now, where the nurses from her unit were not wearing masks, because in theory, it was “clean”, without the “corona”. But one patient, in spite of a negative test, was in fact infected.

Justin came out with high fevers, muscle aches, and shortness of breath.

He will be joined on Tuesday a hospital in turmoil : the 35-bed of his unit are now 100 % COVID. Justin had to learn, online, to handle the new machines to oxygen everywhere. A new rule requires that nurses do not fit in the rooms only a few times per day, except in an emergency, in order to limit the risk of contagion.

And the paraphernalia of protection is absolutely mandatory : masks, face shields, gowns, gloves.

“I’m going to be very careful not to be reinfected,” says Justin.

Protect his loved ones

More than a month after its contamination, Richard Whelan, colorectal surgeon 63-year-old in New York, there was no evidence that he has the antibodies, because in contrast to Detroit, the tests are not yet widely available in the metropolis. His COVID has nailed to the bed 12 days, and Richard was “floored”.

His hospital, Lenox Hill, has cancelled non-urgent and the doctor lends a hand in a unit of 24 beds COVID. There are concerns, as everyone, masks, and gowns.

“I don’t want to contaminate my wife and my daughter”, the doctor said.

The uncertainty regarding her own recovery. “I do not want to give my blood plasma, because I need it, I need my antibodies to protect me,” says the sexagenarian to the AFP, while New York is organizing the collection of plasma from people healed in the hope that they dope sick.

On the other side of the continent, in Seattle, where the epidemic began early, Terry West, a nurse in the er at an urgent care clinic, known for a certain “relief” to have been a part of the first wave and to have survived. It was resumed on 5 April.

But what peace of mind, when her husband, went through a lung cancer, still vulnerable ?

“I will continue to make gowns, masks and gloves. I don’t want to tempt the devil,” said the nurse, aged 55, who had only mild symptoms.

Even if the risk is considered low, it does not reduce the viral particles on his clothes or his hair.

Terry did not, therefore less fear that colleagues are not infected.

The nurse tries when even a bit of the devil : it is worn regularly volunteer to enter the rooms of patients who are most risky, those who are helped by one type of machine to oxygen, releasing into the room the exhaled air (and soiled).

If the colleagues “have children or an elderly person at home, I want to go to their place”, says Terry.

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