It was not until the night before she was expected to join the ‘coronavirus rotation’ that Mridula S. Sree informed her parents. The rookie nurse, barely half a year into her career at Government TD Medical College Hospital in Alleppey, was apprehensive already about the prospect of being in a room with COVID-19. The isolation ward is a lonely, discomfiting space. As a student at the Government College of Nursing nearby and then over her internship, Mridula had heard stories about the ward and the stresses it places on nurses.
“It’s just you and the patient in a spare, bright room with two doors…a designated entrance and exit to be used exclusively as such. An attendant sits outside just in case, but once you enter, that door is almost never opened till you are relieved of duty. It takes some getting used to,” Mridula says. Her first stint in the isolation unit came in February after a medical student returnee from Wuhan—India’s second confirmed coronavirus case—was housed there. He was discharged on February 13 after consecutive negative tests.