'Covid is in every inch of my life - and I hate it' Doctor who lost father on 'relentlessness' of Covid-19

  • Dr Ahsan speaks to ITV Wales' Health Correspondent James Crichton-Smith

A doctor working in intensive care has spoken powerfully about how Covid is "in every inch" of her life, after her father died from the virus.

Dr Saleyha Ahsan works in intensive care at Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor, where she has seen both the first and second wave of the virus take hold in communities across north Wales.

She has also seen first-hand how Covid-19 can devastate families, as she described being "part of the 100,000 club - an invitation I never wanted to join" - making reference to the 100,000 people who have died in the UK from coronavirus.

Dr Ahsan lost her 81-year-old father on 28 December. After taking compassionate leave, she returned to the intensive care ward to treat patients who were battling the same virus.

Dr Ahsan described how difficult it is to escape the virus Credit: PA Images (stock photo)

"I went home for Christmas and by 22nd December, which also happened to be my birthday, my dad was taken into hospital.

"He had been worried about Covid all year. He had been very careful shielding - he was afraid to go out and he was very very careful.

"When we had to tell him, he was actually really brave and more worried about us and trying to downplay it - it's how he was. Then about five days later, by 28th December he had died."

Speaking of losing a loved one and working on the frontline of the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr Asahn said it feels like it is "in every inch" of her life.

Dr Ahsan said she has seen a lot of previously fit and healthy patients seriously ill with different strains of the virus

"Because of the job that I do and the way it's impacted my, family, Covid is in every inch of my life right now, and I hate it."

"It's there when I'm at work. From the moment I walk into the hospital and I put on a mask, it's there. When I started to get back to work and doing shifts in the ITU area, it was like facing my demons. It's there when I put on the PPE, and when I take off the PPE."

Dr Ahsan said how Covid is also "wrapped around memories" of her father, who she described as having a "ginormous brain" who still studying as an astrophysics student until his death.

"His last week - it infiltrates memories of him, it infiltrates thoughts and concerns about my family in London.

"My husband can't be with me, he's in London because I don't want to infect him, so it's impacted my personal life in that way. I'm also making a film about Covid - so it's in my creative world too.

"I'm looking forward to a day when it's not there. It will never leave what happened to my dad, but it will be so nice to come to work and not worry about Covid."

Dr Asahn warned that although Covid rates are falling, "there is no room for complacency."

Concerns still remain over the spread of coronavirus in north Wales, where in some areas infection levels remain above 200 per 100,000 people.

"I think it's really really important to not be complacent and not to underestimate what this can do. As I came back off compassionate leave, what I saw even with my own eyes was how young patients are who are so seriously ill who are right now, as we speak, fighting for their lives.

"Whose loved ones are at home not knowing if they are going to make it home - they've been here for a while now and that's really hard. These are previously fit and well young people who are so seriously sick and that really strikes you.

"My dad didn't leave the house - so you just have to be extra careful.

"Covid is in our lives - but make sure it's not in your life forever if it takes someone away", she added. "This virus is just looking for a way in. Just don't let it. Try your hardest not to let it."