While the threat of the coronavirus outbreak has pushed the world into a frenzy, most of us have the privilege of self-quarantine and self-isolation. However, seldom do we think about those people who do not have an option to work from home and are bound to serve us, despite the threat to their survival.
Various professions do not give workers the facility to work in isolation. They, however, have to work despite the threat, to be able to earn money at the end of the day.
Doctors, nurses and other medical personnel are the most exposed to the virus. The risk to healthcare workers is a great vulnerability of our healthcare system. Risking their lives to save the affected, doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel are on the front line of the war against COVID-19.
Chinese physician, Li Wenliang, who first issued the coronavirus warning, later died from the infection.
Among others, the doctor who treated the 76-year-old patient who died in Karnataka's Kalaburgi, has now tested positive.
Doctors are now planning to stay in "dirty doc" living quarters to avoid infecting their children when they go home.
As many emergency physicians work as contractors and not hospital staff, they may not be paid if they are quarantined. In fact, nurses too have to face similar challenges, and with less pay and support from the medical system.
Imagine the panic that gets created when a fire breaks. In those times, no matter how threatening the situation is, firefighters come to our rescue. 'Work from home' cannot be an option for them.
Similarly, emergency medical technicians, ambulance drivers, and police officers are most likely to be on the front lines of an outbreak.
Neither does an ambulance driver have an option to stay back at home, nor can a police officer refuse to be on duty.
On every occasion, first responders are there to serve us. They have to work directly with the public, and have to interact with a number of people.
Ordering food and other goods is just a click away for us. However, we hardly pay attention to the delivery personnel who work under the harshest of conditions to serve us.
People who make and serve food, deliver goods, and keep retail stores open can easily be affected by the virus, because there is no way they can avoid human contact or afford self-quarantine.
Barbers, fast food workers, physical therapists, athletic trainers, manicurists, retail salespersons, concierges, restaurant servers and cashiers have to work in close physical proximity to the people they serve, as well as their colleagues. Naturally, they are dangerously exposed to those infected with the virus.
Aeroplanes are tightly packed with people and are completely closed spaces. Although the airline industry is preparing for a slowdown due to the possibility of a more widespread, dangerous outbreak of COVID-19, flight attendants and pilots have no option to avoid crowds right now.
Occupations such as these require the workers to be in continuous touch with people, significantly increasing the risk of exposure.
So the next time a delivery personnel hands over food to you, or when a flight attendant comes to collect your plate, the least you can do is greet them with a smile, because they are the true warriors fighting the battle for us.