Cleaning every nook and cranny Housekeepers risk exposure to pathogens when cleaning up and handling medical waste. Charity Naw Su Myat Phyu worked in the Isolation Ward (IW), cleaning the rooms of COVID-19 patients. She was grateful for the many training sessions she had attended. “At first, I was afraid. Then I thought, ‘I can do it because I have already been working in the IW for two years, so I know how to do hand hygiene and wear PPE to protect myself’. Before this, we were training for Ebola. Compared with Ebola, I did not think that COVID-19 was as frightening.”
The work was tiring. It took two hours to clean a room after a patient had been discharged, and 40 minutes if the room was occupied. Equally challenging was the instruction to avoid talking to the patient to minimise the risk of infection. “We were told not to talk to the patient in the room. But it was so unnatural and unkind to ignore them.”
Each day after she entered the IW, Charity was not allowed to leave the premises until the end of her shift. Where she once went to the rest area in the hospital to meet her fellow housekeepers, now she could only connect with them over the phone or video calls. Her routine was just home-to-work, and then a shower, before heading home again.