A touching photo showing the private moment between an intensive care coronavirus doctor and an elderly patient has highlighted the emotional strain of the worldwide pandemic.
The image was taken by professional Getty photographer Go Nakamura, at the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas. The state has emerged as a new coronavirus hotspot as the United States buckles under a surging third wave of the novel coronavirus.
The photo shows Dr Joseph Varon, chief medical officer at the hospital, embrace the patient while clad in personal protective equipment (PPE) during a quiet moment in the patient’s room during the Thanksgiving holiday.
After the image was shared on social media by Getty, it struck a chord with many who said it encapsulated the compassion and tireless effort of healthcare workers on the front line of the pandemic, particularly in hard-hit nations like the US.
“This doctor looks so exhausted and shellshocked. I hope he and the patient are okay,” one person remarked.
Dr Vardon was on his 252nd day straight at the Texan hospital.
“God Bless you Dr Varon and all the front line staff in America. You are all angels! Know that the world is behind you,” another said.
“When will people here wake up. This is tragic in so many ways,” one woman lamented.
Covid post-Thanksgiving surge expected
Just days before the photo was taken, Dr Varon gave an interview with CNN ahead of Thanksgiving saying healthcare professionals like him were bracing for the “darkest days in modern American medical history.”
“My hospital is full. I just opened two new wings so that I can accommodate for the next few days, because I know that a lot of people are going to get sick after Thanksgiving,” he said.
At his hospital, doctors and nurses emblazon their PPE with a picture of themselves so patients can still recognise their care givers.
The top infectious disease expert in the US said Sunday (local time) country may see a “surge upon a surge” of the coronavirus in the weeks after Thanksgiving.
He does not expect current recommendations around social distancing to be relaxed before Christmas.
The number of daily new Covid-19 cases reported in the US topped 200,000 for the first time on Friday (local time), the day after Thanksgiving.
The nation’s total number of cases has now surpassed 13 million while more than 265,000 people in the US have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.
US vaccines set to start before year’s end
As the virus response spirals out of control and hospital reach capacity, Dr Fauci said the impending arrival of vaccines offers a “light at the end of the tunnel.”
He added that President-elect Joe Biden – who will take over from Trump on January 20 – should focus on distributing vaccines in an “efficient and equitable way.” He also said he planned to push the new administration for a rigorous testing program.
Healthcare workers will likely be among the first to get the vaccine, with the first vaccinations likely to be before the end of December, followed by many more in January, February and March, he said.
In the meantime, he again urged Americans, many of whom have downplayed the virus, to wear a mask and practice social distancing.
“So if we can hang together as a country and do these kinds of things to blunt these surges until we get a substantial proportion of the population vaccinated, we can get through this,” he said.
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