This is a praise and salute to everyone fighting the virus on the frontlines in Singapore, especially the healthcare workers.
This is also a tribute to the Singapore government who is doing an excellent job and taking this so seriously.
Here is my little story:
It was a Thursday morning; I was feeling very worried on my way to Changi Airport to commence my 2.5-week-long trip to Spain via Dubai, followed by Switzerland and Germany. I was worried about leaving my family on their own during the coronavirus outbreak in Asia. I always knew that Singapore has an excellent health care system and was surely well prepared for a virus outbreak like this. However, I was not fully at ease embarking on a long trip to Europe.
At Changi Airport, I could see stepped-up measures, especially more heat detection cameras and additional safety and control equipment to monitor travellers during the virus outbreak. Many travellers were using face masks and hand sanitizer was available everywhere.
In contrast, I was surprised when I landed in Dubai, where there were no additional safety measures visible at all. Well, I thought maybe the whole “thing” was not as bad as it seemed.
On a video call with Germany, we decided to curb incoming visitors to our factory from Asia and Italy to protect our employees. At this moment in time, the coronavirus was still perceived as mainly a virus coming from Asia. We made the right decision, and for me, this meant that I could change my travel itinerary and fly back home to Singapore after my week in Barcelona. Well, I felt good about it, as I could be back home earlier as expected.
Arriving in Barcelona, the scenario at the airport as pretty much the same as in Dubai. There were no checks and it seemed like business as usual.
I spent the whole following week in Barcelona. It was quiet as the World Mobile Congress had been cancelled the week before. Besides that, everything seemed to be normal.
I flew back via Dubai to Singapore. Again, no additional checks in Spain or Dubai, though I did have to fill out a form ticking a box that I haven’t been to China in the past 2 weeks.
I was happy to be back in Singapore.
Back at work, we had been practising physical distancing for quite some time already and encouraging those who could to work from home (WFH).
The Singapore government announced new measures, also related to my previous trip to Spain:
“From 11.59pm on Sunday (March 15), all new visitors who had been to Italy, France, Spain and Germany within the last 14 days will not be allowed entry or transit.
Also, from 11.59pm on Sunday, Singaporeans and permanent residents who had been to Italy, France, Spain and Germany within the last 14 days will be issued a stay-home notice (SHN). This means they must stay home at all times for 14 days after returning to Singapore.”
In the evening I started to feel unwell, general flu-like symptoms with a slight cough, sore throat and running nose. I was worried that I could have caught something in Spain.
As I couldn’t sleep well, I decided to visit the nearby clinic of the Raffles Medical Group at NEX shopping mall.
What happened next, was completely unexpected:
I was immediately isolated and brought into a separated room where I waited for a doctor to examine me.
The doctor came after 10 minutes. He was dressed in full protection gear and asked a couple of questions. He was extremely polite and super nice – he made me feel good. He said that they would call an ambulance to bring me to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID). He asked me to change my mask for safety reasons.
I waited for another 15 minutes. When the door opened again, security personnel from the mall, dressed in protection gear, guided me to another isolation room dedicated for ambulance pickup in the car park area.
After waiting for another 10 minutes, the ambulance arrived and I was greeted again nicely. I was always fully informed of the process and what was happening next.
I was brought to the NCID which was about a 20-minute ride away.
Arriving at NCID, I was immediately guided – again, by very friendly healthcare workers – and just followed the red marks on the ground, which were used to make sure the patients keep their distance with each other.
As shown in the picture above, I noticed that the government seemed to be planning for a larger number of visitors, as they were building tents and having lines on the ground outside the hospital to help people keep a safe distance. Singapore’s Government is always planning ahead – and they really do an excellent job.
Along the way, clear instructions were given to me constantly.
I was guided along several stations where I got tagged and different examinations were conducted. I finally reached my little table, where I got water and porridge (a happy and unexpected surprise).
I observed the doctors and nurses. They were constantly disinfecting any equipment, tables, and chairs the patients had come in contact with. I thought wow, they are really prepared and know what they are doing.
One more time, a super friendly doctor approached me and spoke with me. She asked where I was from, and I said, “Germany”. The doctor said she studied in Germany, in Hannover… She explained what would happen next, asked a whole set of questions, and gave me a checklist to identify locations I have been in Singapore.
After that, I was brought to get an X-Ray done. After that, I went back to my table and waited for the doctor’s opinion. I was told that the X-Ray looked good and I could go home again after doing a nasal swab test for COVID-19. I would be informed within 24hrs if the test was positive, and, if negative, someone would call me within the next couple of days.
After I received some regular flu medicine delivered to my table from the pharmacy, I was released and advised to wear a mask, not to take public transport, and to stay at home and rest. I was given 7 days of hospitalization leave.
After a couple of days,
the Raffles Medical Group called me to check on me.
Then, the NCID/TTSH called back to ask about my wellbeing and inform me about the test results of the nasal swab test, which was negative.
I was scheduled to come back for a follow-up check on March 26th.
I remained to work from home under self-quarantine.
I took a private transport to NCID, where a friendly security officer guided me to a separate entrance from the one through which the new suspected cases would go.
Here I waited until a nurse opened the gate for me. The first thing she did was ask that I drop my IC into a plastic bag, making sure nothing contaminated gets on her desk.
I was given a queue number and waited 5 minutes in a room with widely separated chairs. When it was my turn, I had to first answer questions asked by a nurse before seeing the doctor who discharged me officially.
What were the costs of the whole experience?
This is not what I have expected – Nobody ever asked me to pay anything. This is not of any concern to me, I’m lucky to have great coverage. But for many people who are not as fortunate as me, the cost might be an obstacle to go and get tested.
The whole process of charging is also slowing down the overall process of treatment – hence I think the Singapore Government doesn’t even want to have any potential bottlenecks in the process and that’s why it is entirely free of cost. But also, to prevent people not stepping in fear of any medical expenses.
Why am I so grateful?
The whole experience was both super impressive and extremely reassuring, we know we are in safe hands in Singapore.
But first of all, I would like to thank all the healthcare workers, but also all other workers who are in contact with people during this difficult time — Taxi and Grab drivers, security personnel, just to name a few.
Big thank you to the whole team at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), NCID, and the Raffles Medical Group — and every else in Singapore and the World! Kudos to you all — you are doing a great job, incredible!
Lastly, I would like to thank the Singapore government and all Singaporeans who made this all possible.
My wife and I have been living in Singapore for almost a decade, both our kids were born here, we truly feel at home here and are happy and grateful to be able to contribute to this society.
The Singapore government
Singapore’s PM Lee Hsien Loong has been praised by the world for his handling of the virus outbreak. His calm and clear communication is one of its kind. But there are many more who fight every day with all their heart for this country and the people living here. Please watch this video to see the emotions driving this beautiful place forward.
More pictures of what exactly I have experienced can be seen on this article on MSNews:
Please share this article with others,
to praise the healthcare workers and serviceman.
But I do also believe that nobody in Singapore must panic.
Singapore has a great government and dedicated people fighting for all of us on the frontlines.
#Singapore #Covid19 #CoronaVirus #TTSH #NCID #Covid19SG #RafflesMedical #Empathy