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COVID-19 and the unsung heroes


All countries in the world, almost without exception, have been painfully suffering the effects of the terrible Covid-19 pandemic. Some more, some less, but none went unscathed. And we don't know how and when it will end. In my country, Brazil, the situation is very serious, very serious! So far, less than 20% of the population has been vaccinated and, to make matters worse, the vaccine is running out, with no chance of resumption due to the ineptitude of our governments. There are more than 400,000 lives lost, thousands more people hospitalized and the indicators remain at levels that continue to cause a lot of concern.

The country is very large, continental in size and the socioeconomic gap between the states that make it up makes it extremely difficult to have a uniform and efficient policy to combat this devastating pandemic. Each state, each municipality and each city, seeks, with the few resources it has, to face the incessant demand from citizens victimized by Covi-19 who need care from the SUS (Unified Health System), health centers and public hospitals.

While this silent battle against the new coronavirus is being fought, which is taking place across the country, from the capitals to small towns in the interior, there is a front that deserves and needs to be remembered, for its courage, efficiency and importance. It is health professionals who work on the front line in the fight against Covid-19. They are doctors, nurses, health technicians, physiotherapists and several other categories who have been working in recent months to face this particularly invisible enemy, with the mission of not lowering their heads, as their efforts will guarantee more hearts beating in 2021. These Workers are giving their lives to do their best and save lives.

Exhausting shifts, difficulty breathing in the face of so many protective items. Terminally ill and far from family. I cry with sadness for yet another death; I cry with joy for those who are discharged. Health professionals experience these moments, daily, as if they were in the battle of a cruel and inglorious war. A routine full of tension, sacrifices and exhaustion.

According to experts, all of this forces healthcare professionals to go through extreme stressful situations, putting their physical and mental health at risk. The excessive increase in workload, direct contact with contagious diseases, lack of equipment and structure in the hospitals and emergency care centers where they work, exposes these professionals to psychiatric disorders, such as exhaustion syndrome or burnout , which causes feelings of exhaustion, mental detachment and work-related functional cognitive problems.

And, among these selfless professionals, it is necessary to highlight the figure of the doctor, who took on a heroic role in the fight against Covid-19. Not only for the act of saving lives, but mainly for not measuring efforts and taking the mission of caring for people to the letter, in what is one of the worst scenarios in recent world history. The doctor has to be a strong person mentally and physically. His personal and family life changes completely, because he forces himself to be confined, precisely to protect the people he loves and, at the same time, not being able to receive that warm affection that he received before, from his wife and children.

Dr. Mauro Shosuka Asato, a unique figure in the State of Rondônia

Dr. Mauro S. Asato, infectious disease doctor (Photo: Personal archive)

Dr. Asato or Dr. Mauro, as he is also known, is an example of these dedicated and almost always anonymous professionals, who take seriously the Hippocratic oath they took when they graduated and their work, particularly in assisting victims of Covid-19 , serves as an example and tribute to all healthcare professionals, true heroes in this faceless and truceless war.

Infectious disease specialist Mauro Shosuka Asato, 63 years old, admitted on March 25th at HGR (Roraima General Hospital), Boa Vista, Capital, was discharged on April 22nd, Wednesday, after four weeks in hospital due to Covid-19 infection . His discharge was celebrated by staff from the medical unit, who threw a party complete with balloons and violinists.

Dr. Mauro, received with affection and applause from his colleagues (Photo: Personal archive)

Dr. Asato, who works directly on the front line, caring for seriously ill patients at HGR, had to be hospitalized on March 25 after feeling symptoms and undergoing a CT scan that indicated lung involvement. Two days later he had to be intubated and taken to the ICU. Days later, he improved and began to breathe without the help of equipment. While he was in the ICU, he received full support from the HGR multidisciplinary team, who were all his teammates, he was treated, went through all the medical protocols that the case required and now, according to the Hospital management, he will continue his recovery at home .

He was hospitalized for exactly 28 days.

According to the director of HGR, Débora Maia, “Dr. Mauro is an example of strength and hope for all of us. He has worked at HGR for over 15 years and is also part of the team that has been on the front line since the beginning of the pandemic, caring for patients affected by Covid-19. Today’s rise has left us optimistic and certain that together and united we will get through this moment and return to our normal lives.”

According to the director, it is still too early to talk about his return to activities. “This will be a second moment, since the recovery time needed to return to activities depends greatly on the patient. The important thing is that our colleague will remain at home, closer to his family and in a calmer condition”, he added.

Videos and photos shared on social media show Dr. Asato leaving HGR accompanied by numerous colleagues celebrating his discharge, while violinists sing the song “We are The Champions”.

Dr. Mauro, decorating the hospital (Photo: Personal archive)

Dr. Mauro Asato is much loved by his colleagues at the Hospital and recognized for his personal and professional qualities. He was Secretary of Health, Director of the Blood Center of Roraima, Advisor to CRM-RR and is a professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the Federal University of Roraima.

© 2021 Katsuo Higuchi

Brazil COVID-19 Discover Nikkei Kizuna 2020 (series) physicians Rondonia
About this series

In Japanese, kizuna means strong emotional bonds. In 2011, we invited our global Nikkei community to contribute to a special series about how Nikkei communities reacted to and supported Japan following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Now, we would like to bring together stories about how Nikkei families and communities are being impacted by, and responding and adjusting to this world crisis.

If you would like to participate, please see our submission guidelines. We welcome submissions in English, Japanese, Spanish, and/or Portuguese, and are seeking diverse stories from around the world. We hope that these stories will help to connect us, creating a time capsule of responses and perspectives from our global Nima-kai community for the future.

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Although many events around the world have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have noticed that many new online only events are being organized. Since they are online, anyone can participate from anywhere in the world. If your Nikkei organization is planning a virtual event, please post it on Discover Nikkei’s Events section! We will also share the events via Twitter @discovernikkei. Hopefully, it will help to connect us in new ways, even as we are all isolated in our homes.

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About the Author

A Nisei native of Tupã, São Paulo State, he holds a Law degree, specializing in Labor Relations. Over the course of 50 years, he worked as an executive and entrepreneur​​ in the Human Resources field. A Business Consultant, he’s also a columnist for the newspaper Nippo Brasil.

Updated June 2017

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