Surviving Covid-19

PETALING JAYA: When the doctor at the Sungai Buloh hospital told Sathian Vejeyan he had recovered from Covid-19, his wife burst into tears.

Sathian had put her on speaker phone when the doctor came to update him on his status, as he had a feeling he would be discharged.

“It was a huge relief,” he told FMT, partly because after two weeks of being under observation, the 41-year-old was itching to return home.

Sathian got himself screened after a church-goer with whom he had had close contact tested positive for Covid-19. Fortunately, his wife was not infected.

He was shocked and afraid when the positive test results came in. His wife, a flight attendant, was at a loss for words when she heard the news.

But he had to put up a brave front.

“Looking at my wife being afraid, I told myself that if I reacted negatively to the news, it would further affect her.”

Sathian, an IT engineer, was warded early the next morning in an isolated room. It was a Monday.

It took only a while for loneliness to creep in, and he kept wondering if he would be joined by others.

The following day, another patient was checked in and by Thursday, the room was full. Three of them, including Sathian, were later transferred to another ward as they showed no symptoms.

To keep themselves occupied, they chatted about all and sundry. Sathian, having brought his laptop, also did some work and watched movies online.

“While I was there, my wife kept me company online,” he said, adding that even so, just waiting and not being able to do anything was frustrating.

Later, another test showed he was negative and he was free to go.

“I just wanted to go back. I’d been there for too long,” he said although he praised the hospital personnel, right down to the guards, for the “brilliant” job they were doing.

He is now under self-quarantine at home, where he helps his wife around the house and watches Netflix to kill time, apart from working online.

Bandar Kuching MP Kelvin Yii spent a week in isolation, his only face-to-face interaction being with doctors and nurses who checked up on him every now and then.

Fortunately, he was allowed to use his phone and he called home quite frequently in the first two to three days.

“Most of my time was spent on the phone. The news of my testing positive had sparked a reaction. Some good, some not so good, some really bad. But I made a point to call people to reassure them,” he told FMT.

Yii tested positive for Covid-19 on March 17 after coming into contact with Sarikei MP Wong Ling Biu on March 2.

Being warded granted Yii the opportunity to see the medical workers, especially the frontliners whom he holds in high regard at work.

Yii said he struck up conversations with them to understand “their story”.

“They are just like you and me. Many of them have concerns when they go back and are afraid to bring home the virus.

“I saw, with my very own eyes, the best of humanity,” he said, adding that their commitment to treating patients “kept me going”.

He was, of course, relieved when doctors gave him the all-clear, as it meant he could go home and be with his wife. He was grateful to God and the doctors, he added.

At home, where he is completing the mandatory self-quarantine, Yii takes extra precautions. This includes sleeping in a separate room, not having meals with his wife and even wearing a mask in common areas.

He also avoids the public.

“I don’t think the public want to see my face,” he jokes.

His administrative work as an MP has doubled as he attempts to give back to the frontliners by coordinating donations like food and equipment for the general hospital.

Yii has also signed up for an online Covid-19 course with Imperial College in London to learn about how the different countries are managing the pandemic.

“It’s a good time to learn. But once the movement control order is lifted, we will be in for a tough time,” he said.