Covid-19 didn’t stop Al Nuaimi from working, though, he made sure that healthcare teams had the support they needed right from his hospital bed.
An Abu Dhabi health chief leading the war on the pandemic was a former military man – but when he entered the Covid-19 battlefield, it quickly became the biggest fight of his life.
Matar Al Nuaimi, director-general of the Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre and director of the Emergency and Disaster Management Division, has been mobilising a huge part of the UAE’s Covid-19 response.
At one point, with his boots on the ground, the virus struck him down, sending him into medical isolation for 20 days. Covid-19 didn’t stop him from working, though, he made sure that healthcare teams had the support they needed right from his hospital bed.
“It was fate. It was my fate to deal with Covid-19 both professionally and as a patient,” said Al Nuaimi, an ex-Staff Colonel in the UAE Armed Forces.
“On February 8, I started getting sick – I had a fever and a feeling that it was Covid-19, so I went directly to the hospital and got tested. I had the sickness symptoms when the test results came out positive, it was very stressful for me and my family, but I was determined not to stop performing my duty for a single day even though I was in isolation.”
Leading by example, he wanted to assure his teams in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Dhafra that he was around even as he fought the virus.
“I felt that my duty was pushing me to continue working.aiming to promote the idea that no matter what we are going through, we all are in this fight together, to serve our part towards our country and the UAE community,” Al Nuaimi said.
His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, called him personally during his hospital stay to check on him.
During the toughest days, Al Nuaimi showed how determined he was to support the nation’s efforts to beat the pandemic. His ‘lead by example’ approach has also been highly effective. He said his personal experience was minor compared to the larger task at hand.
Frontliners are the backbone of fight
As the Covid-19 war unfolded, Al Nuaimi was awed by how the community – people of all sectors and nationalities – came together. Frontline heroes worked passionately around the clock, serving as the backbone of the battle.
“They have sacrificed a lot. They’ve sacrificed time with their family, their rest, their health, maybe even the mental wellbeing of themselves,” he said.
“I know people who work during peak times in stressful places – laboratory, ambulance services, emergency room, ICUs – it is stressful by nature. Under these circumstances people from all areas have pulled together . this dedication, this commitment is unique in the UAE,” Al Nuaimi said, expressing his support for the newly formed Frontline Heroes Office, which was established in July.
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