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Covid-19 in Singapore: A year on, recovered virus patient still can't taste or smell
Clariss ChiaJan 22, 2021
After one year of Covid in Singapore: Case 38
Ms Julie Ong, 54, is unsure about getting vaccinated as she still has antibodies from her infection to give her some immunity. TNP PHOTO: DESMOND FOO
Chinese New Year is traditionally a time of celebration, joy and family visitations.
But for Ms Julie Ong, 54, it is a grim reminder of what she went through a year ago, so much so that she has mixed feelings about this festive season.
On Feb 8 last year, she tested positive for Covid-19 and was announced as Case 38. She was warded at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) for 10 days.
Before being diagnosed, she attended a Chinese New Year gathering. Her family members and friends who had contact with her were quarantined and eventually tested negative.
Ms Ong told The New Paper: "I was apologetic about the inconvenience I caused. But I was relieved that I didn't infect anyone.
"It has made me more cautious. I won't be doing any visiting because I don't need another 'memorable' Chinese New Year."
Instead, Ms Ong will be going on a cruise with her 75-year-old mother.
A year on, she still avoids large crowds and even small gatherings, other than church services, and she keeps a diary of who she meets for contact tracing purposes.
She suffers from leftover Covid-19 symptoms such as loss of taste and smell but has learnt to live with it.
"It is dangerous when I cannot smell things like gas from the stove, so I have to be more vigilant. I also check my car more regularly to see if anything is wrong," she said.
Ms Ong added that former patients like herself face a stigma because people assume they must have behaved irresponsibly.
"I don't blame them, but the virus doesn't pick and choose. I went about my regular routine and lifestyle, and one day I got it. It can infect anybody."
Ms Ong, who has a 26-year-old daughter, volunteered for NCID's coronavirus research and has had 30 swab tests and five blood tests, giving six to eight tubes of blood each time.
She also "kind of expected" the recent rise in community cases as she thinks people are getting more complacent.
But she noted those who are overly paranoid also cause fear and anxiety in people around them, when all everyone needs to do is follow the rules.
"People don't realise the impact of their actions until they are affected directly," she said.
Ms Ong recalled how she woke up with a slight sore throat last month on the day she had an online job interview.
She admitted she was afraid to see the doctor in case her worst fears were confirmed.
But in the end, she postponed the interview and saw a doctor.
"It can be scary, but I live with my 75-year-old mother. I cannot afford to be irresponsible. So I go for regular checks and if I am not feeling well, I see a doctor. It is the right thing to do," she said.
On vaccines, she is not certain if it is a one-size-fits-all prevention against the virus, and she is still unsure about getting vaccinated as she still has antibodies from her infection to give her some immunity.
On what Singapore should do to curb the rise in community cases, Ms Ong said: "It is really up to the individual. We can go back to phase two, we can start lockdown again or make the rules stricter, but some people will still breach the rules.
"The Government cannot possibly micromanage everyone. Instead, each individual needs to play his or her part to be more responsible and adhere to the rules."
This message was edited by LONGSTER on 22-Jan-2021 at 10:31 AM