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Here's a COVID-19 scare that I recently went through just before the return to Phase 2 Heightened Alert. But before I go there, let me set some disclaimers first.
By all accounts, I've done almost everything "right", be it wearing of masks; sanitising of hand; limiting the number of pax I met per day accordingly to regulations; TraceTogether-ing everywhere I go (if I do go out); filtering out how necessary a social meet-up or gathering is and vaccinating. I am also lucky to work in a company that advocated working from home since the start of the pandemic from early 2020, which has allowed me – privilege acknowledged – to stay in a safe bubble for the majority of this COVID-19 situation.
However, the different clusters that have popped up after short deceiving periods of peace – from the Changi Airport/Jewel cluster, dormitories cluster, Tan Tock Seng Hospital cluster, schoolchildren cluster, KTV cluster, to the Jurong Fishery Port cluster – are all stark reminders that we simply must not let our guards down. A tiny spark can lead to a great fire, and most of us can be that little spark.
So back to my story, when a spark reminded me how big the fire could be.
Here's what transpired last week.
- On Tuesday, a friend of mine went to his barber for a scheduled cut.
- On Wednesday, my mum came over to my house for dinner. After dinner, the aforementioned friend
(let's dubbed him Mr. Wednesday because I'm a Neil Gaiman fan, but I digress) came over to pick up his shopping loot (we shared). He stayed for around one and a half hours as we chat about housing and life.
- On Thursday, I visited my goddaughter (and by default, my best friend and her family) in the evening for around four hours.
- On Saturday, I went out to East Coast Park to cycle for three hours, before having dinner with four friends at the Food Village. The dinner took around one and a half hours before we went on our merry way home.
- I was supposed to visit my parents on Sunday, but I was tired, and decided to stay at home with my husband.
- Monday, 19th July came along, and I went for my second vaccination. Later in the evening, I was informed that Mr. Wednesday had been served a quarantine order due to his barber's colleague, who turned out to be COVID-positive.
While I understand it's possibly pre-emptive measures to narrow down the possible contact points from the then-burgeoning KTV cluster, it opened up a whole can of guilt and questions, the main one being, who may I have impacted if I was infected?
The long list of loved ones who might have been affected due to my negligence, from my own parents, my husband, my goddaughter to my best friends AND their families, actually chilled me to the bones. I immediately sent out messages informing those whom I was in contact with within that previous week, and all I could have done after that was sit back and wait for any further news.
At this point, it's easy to get angry and attribute blame – natural emotions that we need to recognise but not react upon – at Mr. Wednesday, at KTV patrons, at hostesses, at the government and even the world.
But, at the heart of it, who was the main person connecting all the dots to my loved ones? Me.
Once you recognise your role in a possible spread, however insignificant it might feel, it's hard to keep blaming other people (foreign workers, hostesses, horny men) for the community spread.
Mr. Wednesday, responsibly and dutifully, decided not to wait for the Quarantine Order Guys to reach him and went ahead to procure, via delivery, the COVID-19 self-test kits on the very day he informed me.
Accordingly to the MOH website, Antigen Rapid Test (ART) self-test kits are available over the counter for individuals who are worried that they may have COVID-19 and want to put their mind at ease. The self-test kit screens for SARS-CoV-2, a virus that causes COVID-19. It is a quick screening tool to pick up any possible infection early. The test is easy to do and safe, taking only less than 20 minutes, and it's sold at Guardian, Unity and Watsons pharmacies.
The five self-test kits that have been granted interim authorisation by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) for sale as at 16 Jun 2021 are as follows:
1) Abbott PanBio Covid-19 Antigen Self-Test
2) Quidel QuickVue At-Home OTC Covid-19 Test
3) SD Biosensor Sars-CoV-2 Antigen Self-Test Nasal
4) SD Biosensor Standard Q Covid-19 Ag Home Test
5) BD Veritor At-Home COVID-19 Test
Thankfully, Mr. Wednesday's result was negative based on the ART, and I heaved a cautious sigh of relief, at least until he takes the standard PCR test.
My takeaway from this whole situation is that we simply have to take self responsibility as much as possible to help curb the spread of the virus. It's possible to argue till the cows come home about self-governance versus compliance or individual responsibility versus enforcement, but during these – here it comes – unprecedented times, a little extra individual responsibility and awareness are the extra shields we can put up to keep our loved ones safe.
I'm starting by relooking at my social obligations with a new filter, and purchasing a few ART kits to keep at home, since this is our way of living until COVID-19 can be eradicated (or lived with) completely. We'll all have to firefight and avoid being a spark for a while, even as we complain through it all.