Shortly after the COVID-19 virus reached Singapore, the nation entered into a circuit breaker period to reduce transmission of the virus. Physiotherapy was not considered an essential service during that period. So, I took the time off from my work to volunteer at the Tampines Dormitory, which was declared an isolation area by the government.
It was a unique experience as I had to be involved in work that was out of my usual job scope. I was tasked with administrative and ushering duties at the centre and was touched to see many staff from different departments coming together to support our migrant workers.
There was a notable incident where the team experienced a sudden halt of the power generator at the medical post. All of the fans were shut down and one cannot imagine how uncomfortable it was wearing the full Personal Protective Equipment, along with its mask and goggles, under the sweltering heat. I was basically drenched in my own sweat!
The team kept cheering each other on and we somehow managed to survive through three to four hours of 'heat torture'. It was heartwarming to see colleagues helping their teammates who were bogged down with work, whenever they could.
In addition, I managed to tap on my physiotherapy expertise and carried out a simple exercise session for two migrant workers who had complaints of lower back pain.
I ended my stint in June 2020 and have since resumed my role as a physiotherapist. My scope of work has not changed since the onset of the pandemic. The only difference is that we now have to abide stricter infection control measures such as wearing of masks and appropriate Personal Protective Equipment at work, as well as adhere to tighter safe distancing regulations.
How did you feel when you saw the news on the rise of community cases?
My biggest worry was that we may have to return to the circuit breaker period. I was also concerned about my family, especially my grandparents who were initially ineligible to take their vaccinations due to allergies and their pre-existing medical conditions. I am pleased that with the new eligibility criteria in place, my grandparents are now fully vaccinated!
What are your thoughts about the new virus variants spreading in the community at a faster rate?
Vaccination is key. It is definitely the best way to reduce the spread of infections and slow down transmissibility.
Furthermore, there is increasing evidence to suggest that vaccinated individuals, if infected, are less likely to pass the infection on to others. The likelihood of developing serious complications from the COVID-19 virus is lowered as well.
I urge everyone to do our part in this fight by getting vaccinated to protect ourselves, our families and our country!
How do you feel about the reports of discrimination against healthcare workers?
It is a difficult time for everyone. People are fearful of the virus and want to protect themselves, but it should not be done at the expense of others. Healthcare professionals are trying their best to care for the sick, while taking extra precautions to protect ourselves and our families. Hence, I hope the public will stand together with us and show kindness towards one another during this trying period.
Nonetheless, I am grateful for those who have shown support for our healthcare and frontline workers. In wise words of Prime Minister Lee: "We cannot let setbacks divide us or wear us down because if we lose our unity, the virus has won."
During this challenging period, is there something you'd like to say to your fellow healthcare colleagues and the public?
To all my fellow healthcare colleagues, I would like to say: Good job! We have been through a lot, and done our best. However, we need to remain vigilant to prevent further spread in the community.
To the public, let us do our part by getting vaccinated and visiting the doctor at the first sign of any symptoms, to avoid our previous efforts from going down the drain.