Covid-19 survivors front ad campaign thanking healthcare staff in Singapore

One of the advertisements in the campaign, featuring Mr Anwar Gaffoor, 66, and his wife Yasmin, 58. The couple came down with Covid-19 in March. PHOTO: BBDO SINGAPORE AND OMD SINGAPORE

Mrs Yasmin Gaffoor, 58, was petrified when she and her husband, Anwar, 66, both came down with Covid-19 in March .

A healthcare assistant, Mrs Gaffoor was more worried for her husband than herself.

The mother of two said: "I had sleepless nights, terrified that he may die because of his age.

"I imagined the worst, after reading news reports of old people dying from Covid-19."

The couple were admitted to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID), but to different rooms at first. Mrs Gaffoor fretted as Covid-19 patients are not allowed to leave their rooms, she said.

However, she asked her doctor, Dr Sapna Sadarangani, a consultant at NCID, if she could be in the same room as her husband of 30 years and her wish was granted.

She said: "I felt so much more secure being able to see him in the same room. Being together, our mental well-being improved, which helped our (physical) well-being."

Now, the Gaffoors are part of a group of Covid-19 patients featured in an advertisement campaign initiated by ad agency BBDO Singapore and media agency OMD Singapore to pay tribute to the healthcare personnel at the front lines of the coronavirus battle.

Their Beyond the Case campaign also aims to put a face and voice to those who fell ill.

BBDO Singapore's managing director Nick Morrell said: "We wished to give the survivors a voice and give them a platform to say a heartfelt thank you to the nurses who cared for them and to send an honest and empowering message to all health workers and front-liners stating their dedication and hard work are appreciated.

"And if it makes even just one of our wonderful nurses smile, it's done its job."

The campaign started in June, with ads placed in 300 bus stops and taxi shelters, especially those near hospitals, where there is a higher chance that healthcare staff would see them.

Other patients featured in the campaign include dating agency Lunch Actually's co-founder Violet Lim, 40, and bank IT manager Raymond Koh, 47.

Ms Lim was case 667, while Mr Koh was case 168. He was seriously ill and spent five days in the intensive care unit.

Mr Gaffoor, who was case 384, tested positive for the coronavirus after he came down with a fever and a cough.

"It was like a flu. I was quite calm as the fatalities were low," he said.

A few days later, Mrs Gaffoor developed a mild fever, tested positive for the virus and was also warded at NCID. She was case 553. She had a mild fever and diarrhoea, but said she felt OK otherwise.

Mr Gaffoor said: "It was more traumatic for our daughters as both of us caught it. Thank God, our kids didn't catch it."

The couple live with one of their daughters, son-in-law and a maid. They have another daughter, who is married.

Mr Gaffoor was hospitalised for 14 days at NCID, while his wife was there for nine days.

As they were both clinically well but still positive for the virus, they were sent to D'resort, a community isolation facility. He spent 14 days there, and she, 11.

The Gaffoors were all praise for the NCID staff.

Mrs Gaffoor said: "They were always smiling and assuring us we would recover soon. We really salute them."

Mrs Gaffoor was initially apprehensive about going back to work as an X-ray assistant at a polyclinic following her illness.

She was afraid of catching the virus again, but she has since dealt with her fears, seeing how well protected healthcare staff are with their personal protective equipment.

Mr Gaffoor said: "We feel very blessed that Singapore has such an excellent healthcare system."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2020, with the headline Covid-19 survivors front ad campaign thanking healthcare staff in Singapore. Subscribe