Singapore's War On Covid Podcast: How 24 people saved one life

Retired tutor Madam Irene Tan - a grandmother of five - outside her Choa Chu Kang flat in Singapore on Jan 29, 2021. She was one of the early victims of the coronavirus outbreak in early 2020. PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

This podcast series is based on selected chapters from a book, detailing Singapore’s experience battling the Covid-19 pandemic. The book - written by journalists of The Straits Times and edited by ST’s executive editor Sumiko Tan - is titled In This Together: Singapore's Covid-19 Story and is available in major bookstores now. Details online:

In this first episode of six instalments, ST's senior health correspondent Joyce Teo tells the story of the ordeal, that Madam Irene Tan went through, after catching Covid-19 in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak in Singapore, and how, a team quickly rallied around her to save her life. 

Highlights (click/tap above): (Headphones recommended)

01:25 Retired tutor Irene Tan's cautious way of life in February 2020

05:40 Likely exposure from weekly singing classes, where she took her mask off to sing

07:30 The ventilator experience that scarred Madam Tan

11:25 Having her life supported by a machine 

12:35 Madam Tan recounts praying to God, before eventually pulling through

14:00 Madam Tan's fighting spirit despite low blood oxygen saturation levels

15:15 Dr Chia Po Ying, 33, a consultant at S'pore's National Centre for Infectious Diseases and one of her doctors, looks back on treatment advances two years on in February 2022

16:00 Madam Tan on her way of life now in 2022

In This Together: Singapore's Covid-19 Story retails for $28 (with GST) at major bookstores. It is also available on the Straits Times Press website:

Listen to Episode 2 on how Singapore joined a global hunt for masks:

Produced by: Joyce Teo (, Ernest Luis and Hadyu Rahim

Edited by: Hadyu Rahim

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