Coronavirus pandemic

70-year-old Singaporean man dies from Covid-19 complications

Mr Chung Ah Lay was admitted to Singapore General Hospital on Feb 29 and was confirmed to have Covid-19 infection on March 2. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY
Mr Chung Ah Lay was admitted to Singapore General Hospital on Feb 29 and was confirmed to have Covid-19 infection on March 2. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

Patient with history of hypertension and high cholesterol spent 27 days in ICU

A 70-year-old Singaporean man died yesterday from complications due to Covid-19, the third coronavirus death in the Republic.

Mr Chung Ah Lay, who was Case 109, had a history of hypertension and hyperlipidaemia, or high cholesterol. He had no history of recent travel to affected countries and regions, said the Ministry of Health (MOH).

He was admitted to Singapore General Hospital (SGH) on Feb 29, was confirmed to have Covid-19 infection on March 2, and had been in the intensive care unit (ICU) since.

He developed serious complications and eventually succumbed to the infection after 27 days there, said the MOH.

SGH has reached out to his family and is extending assistance to them, the ministry added.

Mr Chung leaves his three children and five grandchildren.

When The Straits Times spoke to his eldest child Ashley Chung, 43, on March 4, she had said the entire family was "shocked" by how quickly her father's condition had worsened. She had also not seen or spoken to him since he was admitted, as he required a ventilator to breathe.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong expressed his condolences. He wrote in a Facebook post: "I got home to learn the sad news that another Covid-19 patient had passed away. My deepest sympathies to the family."

He added: "Keeping a safe physical distance apart should not mean social isolation. Give your friends and family a call, and continue supporting one another during this period."

Mr Chung's death from Covid-19 followed that of two others on March 21. The two - a 75-year-old Singaporean woman and a 64-year-old Indonesian man - both had a history of heart disease.

  • How he got infected still a mystery to family

  • How Mr Chung Ah Lay got infected with Covid-19 remains a mystery to his family.

    The 70-year-old Singaporean, who died yesterday, had no recent travel history to affected countries and regions.

    He had a history of hypertension and hyperlipidaemia, or high cholesterol.

    His eldest daughter Ashley Chung, 43, wrote on Facebook: "Our dad did not travel to affected countries or clusters. How he was infected is still a mystery to my family."

    She called on Singaporeans to be "socially responsible" so that losses can be minimised.

    "Let us remember Daddy Chung by being socially responsible. Another loss due to socially irresponsible behaviour can be avoided! Let us do our part!"

    She added that her father had put up a "good and ferocious fight" in his battle against the virus.

    "Daddy Chung has led a good life. He is always our benevolent father, who has always loved and protected his family with his very best. In spirit, he will always be connected to us, in this generation and the next," she said.

    Ms Chung thanked Singaporeans, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, for their good wishes. PM Lee had expressed his condolences to the family on Facebook. She also thanked the medical team at Singapore General Hospital for "tirelessly looking after my dad".

    Yip Wai Yee

The woman also suffered from hypertension.

While Mr Chung did not have a record of heart disease, he did have other risk factors, said experts.

Associate Professor Hsu Li Yang, infectious diseases programme leader at the National University of Singapore's Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, said research has shown that while high cholesterol is not a risk factor for Covid-19 deaths, age and high blood pressure are.

Visiting professor Annelies Wilder-Smith of Nanyang Technological University's Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine added that while patients with such risk factors face a "higher risk", this does not necessarily mean that all patients with such risk factors will die, or that those without these risk factors will not die.

"Those factors just increase the risk. With increasing numbers, we increasingly also see younger patients without underlying medical conditions who unfortunately end up in ICU care."

On Saturday, updates were also made to the Infectious Diseases Act by MOH, requiring those subject to a movement control measure - such as those on five-day sick leave or stay-home notices - to wear a mask if they have to leave their place of accommodation to seek emergency medical treatment or treatment for a suspected Covid-19 infection.

They must also inform their school or employer of their movement control measure.

They must not come into physical contact or close proximity with another individual at that place of accommodation unless the other person is delivering food or other essential goods, among other exceptions.

Those who do not comply will be liable to a fine of up to $10,000 or up to six months' imprisonment, or both.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2020, with the headline '70-year-old Singaporean man dies from Covid-19 complications'. Print Edition | Subscribe