Coronavirus: #StayHome heroes: They work so we can be safe

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Dubai: As the coronavirus crisis continues, it’s not just medical personnel who are at the frontline, braving the COVID-19 scare. There are a number of others too who run essential services to give us some semblance of a normal life.

They go out on the streets to deliver our food, groceries and basic needs. They report to work with no fail. They man the groceries, pharmacies and petrol stations. They keep us secure in our homes and buildings. They also repair our mobile phones and laptops so we can communicate with the outside world as we are safely quarantined in our respective homes.

A taxi driver on duty
Image Credit: Gulf News

They are, in a way, our #StayHome heroes. They may expose themselves to the elements but they are also very conscious to take extra precaution and observe proper hygiene to keep themselves safe and healthy during these uncertain times.

Contactless delivery

Meet Adil, 29, a Pakistani delivery rider. Aside from helmet, his other essential personal protective gear now includes face mask and a pair of gloves. Add to that ‘arsenal’ against COVID-19 is a pocket sanitiser he keeps handy in his pocket.

Delivery boys on duty

Sharing with Gulf News his work routine, Adil said he and other riders like him are now practising contactless delivery – meaning, he leaves the ordered food at the customer’s door, moves away and then calls the person to say that the food has arrived.

“After the client has picked up the food, I will collect the delivery bag and sanitise it. I also disinfect my hands with a dab of hand sanitiser before I put back my helmet and return to base,” Adil shared.

“This process of contactless delivery has been introduced to ensure food can be delivered in a safe way that our customers feel comfortable,” he added.

While contactless delivery services are changing the way restaurants conduct their business, there are still staff required at the store to dispatch the orders.

This is the task Vernice, 25, Filipino fast food restaurant manager, is busy with these days.

Vernice, restaurant manager
Image Credit: Angel Tesorero

With her hair tied neatly under a cap, Vernice also wears face mask while doing her job. A bottle of hand sanitiser is also always nearby.

“We have doubled our efforts and are now more mindful to keep our store clean. Our food counters are always kept clean and we advise our riders to maintain good hygiene. I also apply hand sanitiser every time I finish a transaction at the cash counter,” Vernice shared.

Physical distancing

Mandatory physical distancing is now being imposed at groceries and hypermarkets, said Dana, 37, Filipino sales staff.

A cashier at a supermarket
Image Credit: Gulf News

“We advise our customers to keep distance among themselves. This way, they are protected and we also feel safe from any untoward viral transmission. As much as possible, we also avoid physical contact with the customers,” Dana told Gulf News.

“I also wear face mask as well as gloves and I keep my work area always sanitised. All our cashier staff, trolley boys, merchandisers, supervisors and security are also given face masks and gloves,” she added.

Pakistani taxi driver Hashim, 26, now also wears a face mask. He said it felt uncomfortable at first but he is now used to wearing it to protect himself as well as his passengers.

Hashim added, as per the directive from the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), all taxis are deep cleaned and disinfected every day. A hand sanitiser and a box of tissue are also available for both the driver and passenger.

“We direct our passengers to use rear seat and advise them if they want to open the window to improve air circulation. We also sterilise the doors and seats and steering wheels,” Hashim added.

Security and health protection

With the rise in coronavirus fears, more people are now going to drug stores to buy vitamins, medicines and other essential health products, said Josephine, 29, a Filipino pharmacist.

Josephine, pharmicist
Image Credit: Angel Tesorero

“Work is currently more hectic and we have more customers than before. But we also impose social distancing in our pharmacy,” added Josephine, who wears a surgical mask and a pair of disposable gloves.

“We are also very cautious. Sometimes if there are customers who ask for flu medicines, we change our gloves after finishing that particular transaction. This is now a standard procedure at our pharmacy to protect the staff from coronavirus,” added the Filipina pharmacist.

Mohammed, security guard
Image Credit: Angel Tesorero

Wearing a face mask and a pair of gloves is a basic requirement and protection for Mohammad, 29, Indian security guard; Nelson, 39, Filipino petrol station attendant and Roshan, 30, Indian mobile phone technician.

Nelson, petrol pump attendant
Image Credit: Gulf News

They also keep themselves strong by eating healthy food, drinking warm water with a slice of lemon or ginger and having enough rest. Taking a shower regularly is also part of their hygiene routine.

Roshan, phone technician
Image Credit: Angel Tesorero

But more than the precautionary measures, they say, serving the people makes them stronger every day. They feel happy that they are also doing their part in the people’s collective fight against the dreaded coronavirus.

One thing that they ask from the public though is to give them a smile for every task they do. And behind the face mask they are wearing, people will also see they are smiling.

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