Losing sense of smell, serving stay-home notice in a hotel: Covid-19 patients, front-line workers share personal accounts fighting virus

Some people spoke about how they spent their days in an isolation ward or on stay-home notices, while others shared about the risks being on the front line fighting the virus. PHOTOS: NAS DAILY/FACEBOOK, COURTESY OF SIMON GWOZDZ, MARCUS CHUA/TWITTER, ERIYANA SUBADI/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Since Singapore reported its first coronavirus case on Jan 23, many people have been sharing their experiences of coping with the outbreak.

Some of them, including an adjunct associate professor, a technopreneur and a church pastor who tested positive for Covid-19, spoke about how they spent their days in an isolation ward.

Others shared about the risks being on the front line fighting the virus, or how they have had to make changes to their lifestyle to protect themselves and their loved ones.

Here are some of these personal accounts, which were shared through interviews with The Straits Times and on various social media platforms.

1. After 13 days in ICU, Case 119 finally won his battle against coronavirus

Ben (right) saying good bye to staff at Alexandra Hospital. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Case 119, who had no travel history to any affected country and wishes to be known only as Ben, spent 13 days in the intensive care unit of Alexandra Hospital.

Only 5 per cent of the cases turn out to be as severe as Ben's, who literally had to fight for his life. He was so touched by the treatment he received that he returned to the hospital to thank the staff. Here is an account of his struggle.


2. We were shunned by some, says Grace Assembly pastor

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Soon after Wilson Teo, senior pastor at Grace Assembly of God discovered he had Covid-19, he realised getting the virus was not just a health issue. Having the virus also affected how people behaved around those connected to him.

After the Grace Assembly of God church emerged as a coronavirus infection cluster in February, its members experienced abuse and ostracism in their workplaces and schools.

Senior pastor Wilson Teo, who was infected with the coronavirus himself, revealed: "In many ways, our name had become synonymous with Covid-19."

He added: "We were not welcome in many places... But we have passed that phase."


3. Will I see my wife again?, wonders bank IT manager, as he lay seriously ill in ICU

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In early March, IT manager Raymond Koh started to feel unwell. On March 10, he was diagnosed with Covid-19. He describes the night he was taken into ICU as "the most terrible night".

For an eternity, time stood still.

No matter how often he checked the clock on the opposite wall, its hands never moved.

Worse, he could not lift his own.

To prevent him from pulling out the tubes in his nose, mouth and hands in his delirium, Mr Raymond Koh was tied down to his hospital bed. That week in March, when he lay seriously ill with Covid-19, was the scariest of his life, he said.


4. I can't smell the orange: NUS don tested positive for Covid-19 after losing sense of smell

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Mr Hugh Mason, an adjunct associate professor at the National University of Singapore's Faculty of Engineering, tested positive for Covid-19 after he realised he had lost his sense of smell.

"My wife was peeling an orange and I thought, that's weird, I can't smell it ," said the 53-year-old.


5. S'pore scientist enjoys comforts of home while on stay-home notice in hotel

In a series of tweets, biologist Marcus Chua gave an account of the entire process, from when he landed at Changi Airport to checking in at the Swissotel the Stamford. PHOTOS: MARCUS CHUA / TWITTER

Biologist Marcus Chua is among the group of Singaporeans returning from Britain and the United States who are serving their 14-day stay-home notices in dedicated facilities, such as a hotel.

In a series of tweets, Mr Chua gave an account of the entire process, from when he landed at Changi Airport to checking in at the Swissotel the Stamford.

While he had to spend his 36th birthday alone, Mr Chua added that he preferred the option of staying elsewhere, instead of his own home.


6. Patients from Grace Assembly of God church cluster tell Nas Daily how they beat the coronavirus

A video by popular vlogger Nas Daily shows how a group of patients from the Grace Assembly of God church came to be infected with the virus and how it led to the temporary closure of the church.

The video, which was posted on March 28, has over 4 million views.

Some said that in addition to coping with the virus, they also had to deal with the stigma of being infected. But the group added that they have now all fully recovered, and are even donating their blood to help in medical research about the virus.

7. S'porean technopreneur who was at London conference still unsure how he caught virus

Space technopreneur Simon Gwozdz said he is still unsure how he caught the virus. PHOTO: COURTESY OF SIMON GWOZDZ

Space technopreneur Simon Gwozdz had attended a conference in London in early March and tested positive for Covid-19 on March 17.

But till today, the 29-year-old said he is still unsure how he caught the virus.

"It might have been a moment of inattention, such as not washing my hands thoroughly, or something completely out of my control, like someone sneezing on the Tube right before I boarded. I guess I'll never know for sure, which only illustrates how insidious this infection can be," he said.


8. 'We'll stay here for you': TTSH nurses to urge Singaporeans to stay home

Ms Eriyana Subadi urged Singaporeans to understand the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic and stay home, so as to stop the transmission of the virus. PHOTO: ERIYANA SUBADI/FACEBOOK

Ms Eriyana Subadi, who works as a nurse at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, took to Facebook in March 20 to share a photo of the healthcare heroes in the fight against the coronavirus.

The post, which has since been shared more than 4,600 times, shows 10 nurses in masks holding up a piece of paper with the message: "We'll stay here for you, please stay home for us".

In her post, she urged Singaporeans to understand the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic and stay home, so as to stop the transmission of the virus. This will allow healthcare workers to care for the cases at hand.

9. Isolation is not that bad, says infected Singaporean on his days in hospital

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For Mr Raymond Sim, 53, the first thing that went through his mind after he tested positive for Covid-19 was not fear, but guilt.

The pastor, who had a fever after a holiday in France, said there was the self-condemnation and regret of possibly passing the virus on to his family and loved ones.

But even though he is physically isolated, he doesn't feel alone, he said. He reads, listens to music, and keeps in touch with his friends and family on social media.

He added: "Being in isolation is not that bad. I want to tell everyone who is afraid of reporting themselves: It's OK to come in."


10. Infected dragon boater touched by support from teammates

A 61-year-old athlete from American Dragons Singapore was confirmed as Case 233 for the coronavirus on March 16, 2020. PHOTO: AMERICAN DRAGONS SINGAPORE/FACEBOOK

A 61-year-old athlete from American Dragons Singapore (ADS), who was confirmed as a coronavirus case on March 16, shared how the close-knit dragon boat community here has rallied behind him.

The British national, who had been to the United Kingdom, said he has received encouraging messages from his teammates, which have kept him going.

"It's very touching when so many people wish you well. It's really weird when you're in a room and you're locked away and can't leave, any contact you have with the outside world is very uplifting and reassuring... I'm surrounded by well wishes and people who want me to get better," he added.


11. Doctor and mother reflects on being on the front line

Doctor Michelle Phua shared a photo of the "lunch" her son had prepared for her. PHOTO: MICHELLE PHUA/FACEBOOK

Doctor Michelle Phua shared an emotional Facebook post on her perspectives working on the front line, while also juggling her role as a mother to a toddler.

In the post on March 27, she shared a photo of the "lunch" her son had prepared for her, and talked about her fears that she may have to be isolated from her family if the situation in Singapore worsens.

Ms Phua also reflected on the uncertainty and stress she deals with when going to work each day, not knowing if she would bring the virus back to her loved ones.

She called on Singaporeans to simply be socially responsible, while many healthcare workers tirelessly battle the virus.

12. 'I am just unlucky,' says anaesthesiologist, S'pore's first known healthcare worker to be infected with coronavirus

The National Centre for Infectious Diseases at Tan Tock Seng Hospital. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

The day before he had a fever, the general anaesthesiologist was working in an operating theatre and was feeling perfectly well.

The 61-year-old said he was shocked when he was diagnosed with Covid-19 a few days later. He had a fever, but no other symptoms such as a cough or sore throat.

Asked how he thinks he could have gotten the virus, he said: "I don't know. No idea at all."


13. From diagnosis to recovery, private-hire driver shares details

The healing garden that links the Ng Teng Fong General Hospital Intensive Care/High Dependency Unit with Jurong Community Hospital. PHOTO: ST FILE

An account by a private-hire driver who was infected with Covid-19 made its rounds online in early March.

Identifying himself as Case 37, he said that he first came down with a slight cough on Jan 30 before developing a fever.

He described at length his experience being warded in the intensive care unit and being separated from his family members, but also his relief when he was finally well enough to be discharged.

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