Coronavirus: Woman who was in ICU discharged after recovery; said she felt like she was dying

NCID staff bidding farewell to Mrs Zhang (in orange), who has been cleared of the coronavirus. PHOTO: MRS ZHANG

SINGAPORE - A 47-year-old woman who was in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) has made a full recovery, and was discharged on Sunday (Feb 16).

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said that the woman, who wanted to be known only as Mrs Zhang, was case 15, and she, her husband and teenage son were among the 92 Singaporeans who were evacuated from Wuhan on Jan 30.

Mrs Zhang, a housewife and a naturalised Singaporean who has lived in Singapore for over two decades, did not show any symptoms when she boarded the flight from Wuhan. But she was found to have a fever during a medical screening when she landed in Singapore on the same day and was then sent to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) by ambulance.

In a transcript of her experience shared by the MOH, Mrs Zhang said that her condition deteriorated suddenly. She recounted: "I was very scared. They stuck the oxygen tube into my nose, and turned up the level so that I could breathe. But because my lungs were not functioning well, it did not work.

"I remember vividly the day I had extreme difficulty in breathing, and felt that I was dying. I thought: 'Am I dying?'," she added.

She was quickly sent to the ICU, where doctors and nurses moved swiftly to aid her.

"At that time, I could not move, but my mind was clear. I heard their conversation clearly. A doctor kept holding my head, and telling me not to worry. She said: 'Don't worry, we will insert a tube to help you in your breathing.' She kept reassuring me. She is indeed a very gentle lady."

While Mrs Zhang's husband was not infected with the virus, her son tested positive and continues to receive treatment at NCID.

Mrs Zhang said that a nurse takes a sample from his nose daily and although he is not cleared of the virus, he has not had other symptoms.

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She said: "I am slightly comforted to think that as a mother, I have brought him up to be a sturdy boy, to better fight the virus."

But it is clear what a toll the whole ordeal has taken on her and her family. "When I came out from ICU, my husband told me that he hadn't been able to sleep for a few nights. I know if I was in his position, I would have collapsed," she said.

Mrs Zhang expressed her gratitude for the medical staff at the NCID who treated her "like family" and "kept encouraging me every day".

Now that she has been discharged, Mrs Zhang plans to go back to her daily life.

"I just want to go back to my ordinary life, to go exercising with my friends, then marketing, and have a cup of coffee. Later in the night, prepare dinner for my husband and children. I think that would be good."

To the other patients still undergoing treatment, she said: "We must pull through. We have family and friends. This disease does not mean inevitable death.

"I have confidence in our medical team and their skills. I believe they will be able to save us," she added.

The latest MOH update from Saturday said that of the 54 confirmed cases who are still in hospital, most are stable or improving. Six are in the ICU.

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