Dr. Omaima Ataya offers a pediatrician’s perspective on COVID-19: Cracking the ice around the unknown

Faculty & Staff
Dr. Omaima
Dr. Omaima Ataya '94 is the School Physician at the American School of Dubai, and was part of ASD's first graduating class. Read her Alumni story here.

My three girls and I snuggled closely while we watched Frozen II for probably the tenth time this month. As Elsa belted out her earth-shattering song “Into the Unknown”, I thought to myself, “this moment, this is what matters”. I felt blessed to suddenly have time on my side. But on the other hand, I have been watching the world racing against time in an attempt to get ahead of this virus that has already taken the lives of so many.

It wasn’t much of a stretch to draw the parallels between that dramatic Frozen scene and the perilous war the world is fighting against the coronavirus pandemic.

These are indeed unprecedented times. COVID-19 has severely impacted the lives of so many around the world. Psychologically, we have all been affected by coronavirus to some degree. It can be utterly exhausting to volley between the hopeful feeling that this will all blow over soon, and the sense of impending doom that makes our hearts pound and our chest walls tighten. 

Today we find ourselves glued to the headlines, looking for predictions of what may lie ahead, searching for answers, searching for hope. It’s easy to get lost in the abyss of the unknown. So, I urge you all to limit the incessant newsfeed. When we do allow it in, we should turn to reliable sources, such as our Superintendent’s community letters, the Dubai Health Authority, the Ministry of Health, the CDC and the WHO. We should resist opening the floodgates of false news and conspiracy theories, but rather turn to our experts for advice. Admittedly, nobody has all the answers, at least not yet. But let’s not focus on what we don’t know. Let’s direct our energy to what we do know and collectively we can make a positive difference in our lives.

We have strong evidence that social distancing works, so stay at home as much as possible.
We know that our high-risk populations, the elderly, those with chronic medical conditions and the immunocompromised, are the most vulnerable to serious disease and even death. Let’s help protect these groups from exposure by practicing social distancing.
We know that good hand hygiene and proper cough etiquette will reduce the spread of the virus, so wash your hands and cover your coughs.
We know that a healthy balanced diet, exercise, and good sleep hygiene will strengthen our immune systems; and we know that if our immune systems are robust we have a better chance of fighting off coronavirus.

These are the simplest yet most profound ways that we can assume responsibility for our safety, stand together, and successfully weather this icy storm. 

COVID-19 Important Information PDF

Dubai residents: Download this PDF of Important Information on if, how, when, and where you should test for COVID-19.

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