PANAJI: You can definitely get over the fear of COVID-19, if you understand the infection process of the virus and how to prevent the infection and its spread, said Dr Gauri Achari, who worked as a volunteer at the virology lab for COVID-19 at Goa Medical College and Hospital, Bambolim. She is currently working as Assistant Professor and In-charge at the Department of Biotechnology, DCT's Dhempe College of Arts and Science, Miramar. Speaking to GT, Dr Gauri expressed, “I decided to volunteer in the time of this crisis so that I could serve my bit for the State and the nation during this difficult time.” Dr Gauri’s inspiration was her sister Dr Shubhada, who during her internship at a hospital in Mumbai, was given the task of screening people who had travel history. “Looking at the frontline medical staff which includes my sister, I was inspired and wanted to volunteer and join the war to fight COVID-19,” she said. She worked as a volunteer at the lab for a period of 15 days, which was followed by quarantine period of 15 days. When asked about how her knowledge come in use at the laboratory, she said, “I am a Microbiologist and I have learnt various molecular biology techniques during my research work in India and in the USA. The practical knowledge of some of these techniques is essential for detection of any pathogen including viruses such as the SARS CoV2." She also said that the detection of the virus can help in identifying and isolating infected persons from others and give them treatment. “Also faster we detect the virus the better we can control the spread of the virus in the society,” she said. When asked if she did not fear about her health, she said, “It is rightly said that ‘knowledge is the antidote to fear’ and in order to help others one must get over the fear first. If you understand the infection process of the virus and how to prevent it and its spread, one can definitely get over its fear and be confident enough to help during this crisis.” “I regularly workout and practice yoga which makes not only the body strong but also the mind,” she said. Commenting on the first reaction of her family when she decided to work at the virology lab, she said, “My father Anil is a mechanical engineer and has been always very supportive and appreciated my decision. My mother Bharati felt a bit apprehensive initially but was later happy and proud that I would be of help during this difficult time.” Speaking about her experience at the virology lab, she said, “It was a really a new experience handling and processing COVID-19 samples for testing in the virology lab. It was really inspiring to work with a team of enthusiastic doctors and technicians under the guidance of the Department of Microbiology Head Dr Savio Rodrigues and the Dean Dr S M Bandekar, GMC.” “Secondly, wearing a PPE and working for long hours was not really difficult for me since I was used to working without a break earlier in research labs,” she said. “I am grateful to the faculty of Department of Biological Sciences, BITS Pilani, Goa Dr Srikanth Mutnuri and Dr Meenal Kowshik for informing me about the volunteering opportunity and also the Principal of DCT’s Dhempe College of Arts and Science Dr Vrinda Borker for allowing and encouraging me to volunteer even though we were expected to work from home during lockdown,” she said.