Women at the frontline of the pandemic

Deepthi Tharika Edirisinghe

Medical Laboratory Technician

Accurately diagnosing Covid-19 is critical for the life of the patient and the global response towards the pandemic. Unfortunately, the work of laboratory staff who help with this task has gone unseen and unappreciated. Deepthi Edirisinghe (29) was called for duty at the frontline, “I acted voluntarily”, she reflects, “I knew this is something I had to do despite the risk of testing an unknown virus and being in close proximity to it. If I had stepped down without serving, I would have carried that regret all my life.”

Deepthi’s regular working hours drastically changed as now she has a substantial number of samples that necessitates working round the clock. Laboratory technicians like her were sweeping through hundreds of samples a day getting reports out within a matter of hours when most countries took 24-48 hours to do so. Working in a high-risk environment also meant she had to part ways with her family and fiance and stay in the hospital during the lockdown. “Being the only child, it was hard on my parents. They do not understand what my line of work entails and they were stressed and anxious for me. My hectic work hours meant they couldn’t reach me for any reassurance. That is why I feel it is important to highlight the struggles and sacrifices of families of frontline workers too. They have also been in this fight with us, supporting and hiding their true fears”, she acknowledges.

“What I am most proud of is the fact that it was all girls in my laboratory. We left our families and loved ones for this cause. To be able to work as a team of girls to fight this pandemic was a profound moment for me. We are a part of history”, she proudly admits.