Coronavirus: 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

SINGAPORE - The close-knit dragon boat community here is rallying behind a 61-year-old athlete from American Dragons Singapore (ADS) who was confirmed as Case 233 for the coronavirus on Monday (March 16).

The British national, who is a Singapore long term pass holder, is an imported case as he had been in the United Kingdom from March 7-14. He is currently warded in an isolation room at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID).

The man, who declined to be named, was in good spirits as he told The Straits Times: "I feel like I've really just got nothing more than a flu. I do get a fever but it's on and off, and I feel a bit achy, like a muscular ache.

"I can only say amazing things about the staff here, and my teammates have been incredibly supportive - it's a very close-knit community."

His last practice session with ADS, a competitive paddling club, was on Feb 25, and he has had no further physical contact with them since then.

After returning from the UK last Saturday, he woke up with a fever the next morning and was tested for Covid-19 at the NCID on the same day. He went home after his temperature went back to normal. On Monday morning, he received a call informing him of his positive test and was sent to the NCID in an ambulance.

He speaks to his wife, who has been quarantined, four to five times a day on FaceTime and has spent his time in isolation reading, sleeping and watching Netflix. His two adult sons and daughter live in the UK.

He has also received encouraging messages from his ADS teammates, adding: "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."

ADS team captain Ken Nabors noted that a video posted on ADS' private Facebook page by their teammate from his isolation room has garnered about 40 comments wishing him well.

Nabors, 34, added: "He had a really good attitude about it... (Contracting the coronavirus) is nothing to be ashamed about, you just have to go through it, follow health regulations and listen to health professionals, and be responsible about quarantining yourself and how you feel."

ADS trains at the Kallang Dragon Boat Nursery, and Nabors said hygiene protocols for the team include temperature taking, recording of visitor details and disinfecting of equipment such as boats and paddles. These measures have been in place since the Dorscon level was raised to Orange on Feb 7.

"We're not looking at cancelling training, we're staying strict with our precautions and adhering to regulations from the Singapore Dragon Boat Association (SDBA) and the Ministry of Health," he said.

SDBA general manager Raizal Abdol Jalil told ST he is confident of the measures that the association has put in place for both its beginner programmes and competitive teams. Temperatures are taken and visitor logs kept for its beginner programmes, as well as disinfecting of boats, paddles and life jackets after use. For competitive teams such as ADS, the onus is on these 108 teams to take their own precautionary measures. The SDBA will provide sanitising solutions to these teams for free if they are unable to get their own.

Of Case 233, he said: "We've sent an advisory via email to all team managers of our 116 members and shared the timeline with them - after his last training session he went overseas and was not in contact with the dragon boat community, and in that sense we don't see a break in the process.

"The team alerted us quickly and at the moment we are very assured that our current policies in place are working."

ADS were scheduled to compete in the May 29-31 DBS Marina Regatta, which was cancelled on Monday owing to the virus pandemic.

Last week, climbing gyms Boulder+Climbing and Climb Central were hit by Covid-19, after they announced that a climber who visited their premises had contracted the disease. Both gyms had closed their outlets temporarily for cleaning and have since reopened.

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