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  1. ITV Report

'You can smell the fear': Norfolk doctor on the coronavirus battle facing the NHS

A trainee doctor from Norfolk has been speaking about the fear that exists among those working on the frontline in the fight against coronavirus.

Fola Opatola trained in Nigeria and moved to the UK in 2017.

He now works in the A and E department at the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston in Norfolk and says he's worried he could be putting his loved ones at risk when he comes back home from a shift at the hospital.

You can smell the fear as the news come in daily and you get the counts of the number of people who died.

You can smell the apprehension and anxiety about working at the frontline. You want to be sure you are doing the right thing to protect your family, you want to be sure you are doing the right thing for your patients at this point in time.

You definitely get anxious after your shift too. I'm going back home now, I've got a wife and 2 kids, I hope I am not bringing something home.

– Dr Fola Opatola, James Paget Hospital
Fola and his wife Rume talking to ITV Anglia reporter Raveena Ghattaura Credit: ITV Anglia

One of six children, Fola followed his father's footsteps into medicine.

He always wanted to be a doctor and says his passion for helping people inspired him to take up the job.

But with thousands being diagnosed with the Covid-19 virus across the UK, pressure is mounting on our health service like never before.

Fola's wife Rume is proud of his achievements, but admits she's worried about him and the crisis the NHS is facing.

She says it's difficult for their two sons Semilore and Oreofe to understand the precautions and why their dad has to keep his distance from them when he arrives back home from work.

I'm grateful for him being part of the people who are actually doing something to help the situation.

But the impact it has on the family sometimes can be worrying. He is going out - I am worried - is he okay - would he come back.

We do call regularly at work and text when he can with what is going on. If he feels overwhelmed about anything he reaches out me, so we are sort of like best friends. We have a young family, they miss their dad so much. All day the kids say, "is daddy back yet, is daddy back yet", and when he comes back I have to hold them back so he can go and wash and change.

We are doing all the precautions, but it is a little difficult explaining to the little boys that you can't hold daddy just yet.

– Rume Opatola, Fola's wife
Fola is a trainee doctor at James Paget hospital Credit: Dr Fola Opatola

Fola admits he is frightened about the challenge both him and the NHS are up against, but says his faith will get him through it.

"You definitely get anxious", he said.

"But I think faith over fear, that's what I believe."

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