In recent months, the COVID-19 virus epidemic that originated from Wuhan has arrived on our shores and impacted the local community in Singapore. In this piece, Michelle shares her reflection and sentiments upon hearing that her best friend is about to be sent into the designated virus wards to assist those afflicted by the virus.
7 Feb 2020, Friday
My best friend is a doctor at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH). She is on standby to cover the coronavirus wards at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID), and might be activated any moment now.
Until very recently, I hadn’t been too concerned about the virus, or about her. Things seemed pretty under control in Singapore, and there were days with no reported cases. Then the number of confirmed cases in Singapore started rising. We started getting local transmissions, increasingly so, with no known links. In the articles I read, a majority of the confirmed or suspected cases seemed to be checked in to TTSH, where she works. Dr Li Wenliang, the doctor in Wuhan who first sounded the alarm about the coronavirus, dies. He was 34. Today, Singapore raised the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) level to orange. I started getting very very worried.
She texted me this evening that with a rising number of people admitted for the virus, different departments in the hospital were sending their doctors to the virus wards to help out. She, and another colleague, were next in line from her department, and might be activated soon. I cried.
I told her that I am very worried for her. She says she’s scared too, but more so for her family and friends – that if she catches the virus, she might unwittingly transmit it to us. She assures me that she’ll be fine – the mortality rate is low. And that she will take the necessary precautions. She has processed it, and is ready to go. She told me not to worry.
I video called her tonight. We didn’t have much time, she has work at 6am tomorrow. She talked about the situation in the hospital – How nurses are hiding face masks meant for healthcare professionals for fear of visitors taking them, how the safety gear in the virus wards look like space suits, how she’s nervous but so excited to be at the heart of it all: “It’s a milestone in history!”, and how she has already said her goodbyes to her team. She told me that she knows that God is with her.
It was so interesting listening to her. I was intrigued, but fearful. People run away from fire, but she is one of the few people I know who would run towards it to help and to heal. I shook her (my phone) wildly and told her that she was crazy. She laughed and said that I was very funny. I laughed through tears as we said our temporary goodbyes. I told her that I love her and her big, big heart.
Do not be afraid, for I am with you. I go before you always.
We ended with a prayer. I prayed for her, and healthcare professionals all around the world battling this epidemic. The messages we got were that of courage – “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. I go before you always.”, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” And that of thanks – “Thank you for taking care of my sheep and for nursing my flock.” She saw an image of her taking care of a lamb, and God, her Father, taking care of her.
And this too is my prayer for all healthcare professionals in these very uncertain times. Have courage, and thank you. Thank you for putting your lives on the line. Thank you for looking fear in the eye and saying, ‘Not today, Satan.’ Thank you for sacrificing time with your loved ones so that you could take care of ours. Thank you. The virus may be big, but our God is bigger. And He is fighting with you.
I still tremble at the thought of my bestie going into the virus wards any moment now. But if she is called to be courageous, then so am I.