COVID-19 diaries with Ridah Hasan: From Elective to Lock Down

Another fantastic entry for COVID-19 diaries with Ridah Hasan...

Ridah on elective in Vietnam earlier this year

If anyone had told me at the start of the year what March, April and May of 2020 entailed, I'd have thought they were reciting the plot of some post-apocalyptic movie. Back then, I was getting ready to go on my 5-week dental elective in South East Asia. 

When talk of Coronavirus started to hit the news late last year, we were told by the dental charity we were going to work for that they had safety parameters in place and that there were no cases in Central Vietnam. I checked the website for advice and was reassured that it was safe to travel so I carried on with my preparations.

Whilst abroad, Coronavirus wasn't affecting anyone to the magnitude that it is now, but as the weeks went on, the crowds started to lessen, there were fewer cars on the roads and shops/restaurants were shortening their opening hours. 

Different countries had different levels of infection control, but nothing beat the measures in place in Singapore. Even when going to a small convenience store to buy water, I was met with an attendant outside who wouldn't let me in unless I had my temperature checked. I was told that a temperature over 38 degrees would mean I would be asked to go to the local hospital for further testing - something that may sound over the top but it's one of the reasons Singapore was held up as an example of how to tackle the virus. 

Arriving back in the UK was a bit of a shock to the system - the departures level was empty but arrivals was full of people coming back to the UK after lock down was being enforced around the world. Despite the increasing panic regarding the virus, it surprised me that there weren't any strict checks when we got here. 

I decided to go straight into self-isolation for 2 weeks. It was difficult not being able to see my family after 5 weeks away, but it was reassuring to know that I was doing it in their safety. Plus, meals being delivered to my room made it feel like I was still in a hotel so it wasn't too bad!

Ridah is a fourth year dental student at the University of Sheffield

However, I have found it difficult to adjust to lock down life. Being a very methodical person who hasn't been out of education for this amount of time for over 20 years, it was really tough to motivate myself to stick to a routine and to set a boundary between work and home. 

I also felt like planning for dental student wasn't a priority during the outbreak but after an academic rep meeting with tutors at my university, it was clear how hard they were working to bring back some normality for us. I urge any student reading this to not feel like they have been forgotten. Take this time to reflect and appreciate the times we had before lock down, but also make the most of the time we have now. We'll hopefully be back to dentistry soon but until then, make sure you look after yourself and each other!

Do you want to write a COVID-19 diary? Please get in touch! Whether you're a dental student, foundation dentist, dental core trainee, associate, dental nurse, therapist I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

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