Expat Living reader ERIN TAYLOR tells of her close shave with the coronavirus.
It started with a fever: 38.6 the thermometer read. Could there be a worse time to present to a doctor in Singapore with a fever? There are various ways people are coping with the COVID-19 situation in Singapore. Some are laughing it off as nothing more than a cold; others are taking practical precautions and sanitising hands. Then there is the third kind. Me.
I kept my children away from school for a week when the Dorscon alert was raised to orange. I wash my hands to within an inch of their lives as often as possible. I don’t hold on when riding the MRT. I would be wearing a mask if I could find any to purchase. “Your lungs sound clear, but given your symptoms and the current climate we are going to transfer you by ambulance to NCID just to be sure.” NCID. Ambulance.
This would be a cruel twist of fate for someone who has been so paranoid about this virus. Someone so meticulous in hygiene. Like the virus had sensed my fear and sniffed me out. Two security guards marched me from the GP clinic to the “Isolation Room”, which was last week a storeroom. The security guards were gowned, gloved and masked. I was fully panicked. NCID is a systematic, sterile and uniform place. It is a comforting level of order amongst the panic. Lines to walk along are marked on the floor with red crosses to stop at to ensure you are never very close to the person in front or behind you. After passing through triage you are seated at a desk, exam style, in a room of 30. Rooms like this extend beyond the first. Most desks were empty and the capacity of the place is impressive. After a clear x-ray and a COVID-19 swab I was sent home to await results; quarantining myself in my own bedroom.
The febrile state I awoke to was like nothing I had experienced. I took myself back to NCID. Yesterday’s test was negative but the x-ray showed pneumonia. I would have to be admitted.
Drip in my arm, mask on my face, I followed two nurses in protective gear into the ambulance. It was a short trip – across the road to the Communicable Diseases Centre. I was in isolation. They were going to re-test me for COVID-19. I couldn’t leave my room. No visitors. My heart raced and fever roared. I cursed my quick-to-catastrophise imagination. A red sign on my door warned people that I was in quarantine. I could see them preparing to enter the room through the glass window: mask, goggles, gloves, gown. People peering down on me through googles added to my sense of disorientation. But the staff were calm and caring. The setting is quiet and controlled.
Tests were conducted, doctors came and went, and my febrile state made most of it a blur. Two subsequent tests came back negative. The isolation sign on my door was turned to green. The dinner lady praised the Lord for my health. A frightening experience, but one that has shown me just how prepared Singapore is. There is nowhere I would rather be in a crisis than my Singapore home.
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