Coronavirus: Couple fought virus together in hospital

Mount Elizabeth Hospital made special arrangements for husband and wife to be in the same room, in a single ward. PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO

When they recited their wedding vows a few years ago, the couple pledged to love each other in sickness and in health.

That promise was put to the test earlier this month, when they found themselves in a hospital ward, whispering encouragement and trying to comfort each other from separate beds.

The couple discovered on March 17 and 18 that they had caught the coronavirus after attending a wedding in the Philippines. They were placed in separate isolation rooms at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) for a week, during which time they could communicate by just text messages.

But they were reunited when their medical conditions stabilised and they were transferred to Mount Elizabeth Hospital last Monday.

The hospital made special arrangements for husband and wife to be in the same room, in a single ward. The ward was then sealed off from the rest of the hospital.

The Indian couple, who are Singapore permanent residents, declined to be identified.

The wife, 30, told The Straits Times: "Having another person who has had the same experience helps. When we were put in the same room, it was a lot more comforting."

Last Thursday, she tested negative for the virus twice over a duration of 24 hours and was well enough to be discharged. But she does not feel relieved yet. She said: "I feel really bad that he's in the hospital and I am alone at home. Now it's difficult for him because I am not there."

Her husband, 29, declined to be interviewed.

The couple, who met in Singapore four years ago, had travelled to the Philippines between March 7 and 9 to attend a friend's wedding. It was a wedding by the beach, with more than 100 guests.

She said: "The weather was good and we had a buffet dinner and dance party afterwards."

When the couple returned to Singapore, the husband developed a fever and was given five days' medical leave by Parkway East Hospital.

The following week, she received a text message from a friend informing her that one of the guests at the wedding had tested positive for the coronavirus.

"By then, I had developed a runny nose. I wanted to be extra careful, so I went to a clinic. The doctor told me to go to NCID immediately," she said. Subsequently, she too tested positive for the virus.

Her husband was asked to take the swab test and his result came back positive the next day.

About 30 of the couple's contacts were quarantined, including her gym instructor.

"The level of support was immense. People really care. People were offering to send food to them (those quarantined). There's this whole community that came together. I was so relieved when everyone was cleared after 14 days," she said.

"The past two weeks might have been difficult coping with the virus, but I continue to count my blessings. My symptoms were mild, whereas there are people who suffer a lot more."

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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 Coronavirus: Couple fought virus together in hospital. Subscribe