Coronavirus: Certis officer ecstatic to be home with family after being discharged from hospital

When he had to spend his birthday in isolation at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, Case 44 was surprised by the nurses in his ward with a birthday cake. PHOTO: COURTESY OF CASE 44

SINGAPORE - Two months after being discharged from the isolation ward at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH), the Certis officer who had contracted Covid-19 is back at work, albeit no longer on the front lines.

Asking to be known only as Case 44, the 38-year-old father of two is now working from home and has returned to his regular duties of handling manpower and deployment arrangements. He has been with Certis since 2005.

Case 44 had been performing these manpower duties until late January, when Certis started looking for volunteers within the organisation to help with its quarantine services. Sensing an opportunity to gain valuable work experience, he offered to help.

As a quarantine order agent, he was deployed to serve quarantine orders to individuals during the early days of the Covid-19 outbreak in Singapore.

Equipped with gloves and face masks, Case 44 and a nurse from the Health Promotion Board (HPB) served quarantine orders to persons, assessed their health condition and determined if their homes were suitable to be used for quarantine purposes.

Among the individuals to whom he served quarantine orders, were a mother and daughter from Wuhan, China. The pair later came to be known as Case 13 and Case 26 respectively, when both tested positive for Covid-19.

On Jan 31, he began experiencing swollen tonsils, although this did not cause him any worry since he has a history of recurring tonsillitis up to three times a year.

He visited a GP on Feb 2, and was issued antibiotics to ease the swelling of his tonsils.

The swelling led to a fever and when the fever did not subside after some days, Case 44 walked into KTPH on Feb 6 to get himself checked.

He was placed under observation for two nights as his fever worsened.

On the morning of Feb 8, a swab test for Covid-19 was performed, which returned positive the next afternoon, and he was immediately transferred to a dedicated isolation ward.

When the doctors first told him he had tested positive for Covid-19, Case 44 said he was "in disbelief".

While fighting through the lethargy and erratic fevers, he thought of his wife and two children, aged five and seven, who were isolated in their four-room flat in Sembawang.

"As an adult, I already couldn't take it (the isolation). I knew it must be worse for the children," he said.

He spent his birthday (Feb 14) in isolation, with his wife and children video calling him to sing Happy Birthday to him. The nurses at KTPH surprised him with a cake, knowing that he could not celebrate with his family.

He was finally discharged on Feb 18, and was ecstatic to be received by his family upon his homecoming.

"I tried to be cool in front of my children but the happy tears just came. I am very thankful that my family is safe", he said.

He is grateful to his wife, a housewife, for holding the fort during his absence and to his sister and brother-in-law for helping with the groceries when the family was isolated.

His commanding officer also offered his assistance, by helping to arrange for his flat's disinfection and sending hampers from their unit and the group chief executive of Certis.

Case 44 is also the first recipient of a $3000 grant from The Courage Fund, through which Community Chest issues monetary grants to those affected by Covid-19. The grant has helped with the provision of necessities for his family, he said.

In support of those infected with Covid-19, he added: "Believe that the doctors and nurses know what they are doing. You are not alone and please remain strong in the fight".

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