Medical student Rocky Singh’s passion for service led him to the COVID-19 Surveillance Team

By Lakhram Bhagirat

Service to people is somewhat ingrained in 22-year-old medical student Rocky Christopher Singh. He knew he wanted to serve the Guyanese people and humanity at large from a very young age and never lost sight of the end goal.

It was only practicable that when the coronavirus made its way to the local shores that Singh would ask: “How can I help?”

He knew that he needed to be involved not only because he is a student at the University of Guyana School of Medicine but also because he knew what needed to be done. He saw the opportunity to work on the frontlines as one that would only increase his knowledge and further fuel his passion for service.

Rocky Christopher Singh.

Upon completing his solid secondary school education at both Tutorial and St Rose’s High Schools, he enrolled at UGSOM and started his career in medicine. He noted that the goal has always been and continues to be positively impacting the lives of others.

Currently, being in his final year, it is as though the light at the end of the tunnel of becoming that physician he always dreamt of being, suddenly became a blur within just a few months. Of course, that blurriness is attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic that we’re all faced with.

Like many of us, he is now centred amidst the four walls of his bedroom, which has now become his school, study spot, chill spot, in addition to just being part of his home. For him, it becomes frustrating and he is somewhat disappointed since the practical aspect of his academic journey has become more or less standstill. He explained that the final year courses require clinical practice along with patient interactions – something that is not possible with the nature of the pandemic and the diversion of all resources.

On the flip side, over the past few months, his school has been trying to adapt to the pandemic by instituting virtual teaching sessions and by also putting other measures in place to better meet the students’ requirements. This has led to him having more time to continue his service to humanity and he found himself at the Ministry of Health volunteering firstly with the COVID-19 Hotline Team.

He started shortly after Guyana recorded its first case back in March, intending to simply help to combat this pandemic in any way possible. As the numbers continued to rise, Singh’s knowledge was called upon and he was transferred to the Surveillance Unit since the workload there had increased.

The MOH – Surveillance Unit, is a department that deals strictly with contact tracing of positive cases and daily follow-ups of repatriates. This department is one of the strongest entities that have been working tirelessly to curb the spread of this deadly virus. With that said, the identification of the contacts of a positive case is extremely vital to limit the spread of COVID-19.

This will further lead to the initiation of early supportive care and management, if necessary, and can ultimately limit the progression and the fatal outcome of the virus. Furthermore, the department also contributes to the basis of decision making and assessments of COVID-19 interventions which are also crucial to the management of this pandemic.

“I must say that my time spent there thus far was truly amazing. I’m astonished by all the hard work, extreme dedication, and tremendous efforts that are displayed by the staff at the Unit, in order to get the work done. Regardless of whether they are required to work ‘around the clock’ or on holidays, they do not hesitate to do so.

“Volunteering at this department certainly gave me the opportunity to expand my knowledge on the new deadly virus, and to make correlations with other illnesses. More importantly, it has allowed me to interact with patients on a regular basis which is indeed beneficial to me and my academic development,” he said.

He advised persons who have tested positive for the virus to be honest with the medical professionals and give accurate information about their primary contacts (ie by providing their correct name, telephone numbers and addresses), as this would help the Surveillance Unit to do effective contact tracing.

“To the general public, I kindly ask you to continue to follow the necessary COVID-19 guidelines released by both the Ministry of Health in Guyana a well as the World Health Organisation (WHO). On a further note, be very cognisant of the source(s) you read for updates and other information regarding COVID-19 since unreliable sources can cause undue anxiety, which would be the least anyone would ask for in these trying times,” Singh urged.