On 3rd August, I received news of the inevitable. Hushed whispers, lots of WhatsApp messages and frantic packing followed. I was a close contact of a confirmed case. LOA was issued and I had to work from home in the days that followed.
I know. The ministers said we are moving into the endemic phase. But when it happens to you, all hell breaks loose and with so many things to internalize, it’s hard not to be flustered. And then the waiting game started.
I received a phone call from MOH that evening. They were pretty efficient. Thereafter, an sms arrived, instructing me to download the Homer app. This app has to be left running in the background 24/7. One is required to take a selfie and report symptoms, if any, thrice a day at designated timings.
Tip #1: Dig out a power bank
Battery life is compromised with the Homer app running in the background. No one will be impressed when they found you offline because of a batttery drain.
The following day (4 Aug), I received a phone call from Certis at 6.39am. The caller reiterated that I was on QO. She enquired about my family situation and my choice of serving my QO at home or at a dedicated facility. My mind was still hazy from sleep or the lack of but I managed to put together a few questions to ask her.
Tip #2: Spam calls or not
So how do we differentiate such genuine calls from those spams? For one, it’s a local number and not a handphone number. It also doesn’t have a + prefix. Finally, the caller addressed me by my full name and stated where my close contact occurred.
After that, it was business as usual. Lessons must go on afterall. I’m really thankful to my boss who shared all her materials and slides with me. All I had to do was to modify them for my classes. Definitely not in the mood and home was not exactly conducive with 2 kids under 5 who had to be on AA because of my QO. Without a doubt, the FHBL stints had prepared my kids for when I needed to lock myself in the room. While zooming, Ez was contented to shout out answers to my questions for the class from outside the room. While I was providing wait time to “What’s 17 – 9?”, Ez was outside shouting, “8”… “8”… “8, mummy” x 10 times. Faint…. At times like this, having a purpose (conducting lessons) was a respite from all the negative thoughts that surfaced repeatedly. Normalcy in uncertainties.
The wait for the transfer was excruciating. Despite numerous calls and repeated explanations of my home situation to different operators, no one came to swab nor transfer me to a quarantine facility. I told the kids that I would be leaving them for a few days since the 3rd. But with each passing day, they became more convinced that I was going to stay at home, that I might not have to leave since no one came for me. The ‘maybes’ and the ‘not knowing when’ made it all worse for everyone.
Tip #3: Ask for the name of the operator/caller
With so many cases on QO, your pleas and info are just 1 of too many. It was a case of all talk and no actions for me. I was advised to get the names of those I spoke to in order to spur someone into action. That way, I could be sure the info I provided and my requests were actually entered into the system and not lost in phone relays.
Utterly grateful to my SLs who stepped in to help me speed up the process. I didn’t have to jump through as many hoops after their intervention. So on 6 Aug, things started happening after being in limbo. A swabber finally arrived at my doorstep!!! If you are worrying about giving your neighbours a heart attack when they see a swarm of PPE descending on your doorstep, fret not. It was very discreet. Only 1 person arrived. He could either be holding a plastic bag or pushing a small trolley bag. The best thing is he only puts on his gears at your doorstep. Of course, it will be a completely different scenario should they be coming for you because you are a confirmed case.
The hub and the kids were given the ART test. I had the honour of trying out both the ART and PCR. The ART has to be done first as it takes a while. Ez bravely volunteered to be swabbed first. Then it was Lè Meimei’s turn. She was crying at first but calmed down after the swabber talked to her. He patiently explained the procedure to her while doing the swab.
Tip #4: Hunt down the ICs and Birth Certs
The swabber requires the ICs of the adults and the birth certs for the kids for info such as the date of birth, full name and BC number. So if these items are scattered everywhere, go look for them before the arrival of the swabber.
Less than 10 minutes after the swabber left, I received a phone call. The caller identified himself as my officially appointed swabber and he’s on his way to my place. I was like WHAT?!?! Then who’s the guy who just left?! That first guy appeared on my doorstep without a call. I was too happy to see him and obviously didn’t adhere to my Tip #3 to verify his identity. Long story short, we didn’t have to be swabbed again. Thank god for that because at that point, my nostrils were still screaming in agony.
Just when I had given up hope that I would be transferred to the hotel that day, I received a call from the driver at 6.40pm. He told me he would be picking me up at 7.30pm. A mad rush to stuff all the things I took out of my luggage back in, changed and then settled down with Ez and Lè meimei. They were each clutching a storybook for me to read, their bedtime story for that day. My heart broke a little seeing their faces. Ez hugged me so tight and he’s not the sort who will auto hug me. At that time, Lè meimei was still smiling and quite happy. Each of them were given a favourite soft toy of mine to hug in my absence and at that point, both soft toys were squashed by their little hands.
The driver called at 7.27pm. He had arrived. Time to leave. And the crying began. I left the house with Ez crying and Lè meimei sobbing. My mask was wet by the time I reached the lift. Lè meimei’s Mummmmmmyyyy cries broke my heart. I got into the car in sniffles. Explained to the driver so he wouldn’t get too alarmed. He reassured me that he knew I ain’t C+ because those passengers were transported by another team. Good to note this. At least, the person sitting in the seat before me wasn’t a confirmed case. He tried to hold a conversation but I didn’t participate much. Because #1, I wasn’t in the mood. #2, the windows were down, we were on the expressway and could hardly hear a thing. #3, he kept turning his head to look at me whenever I replied which was too dangerous in my opinion. I just wanted to get to the hotel in 1 piece. It was better to let him concentrate on the road ahead while I replied all the messages that came in fast and furious.
Then I arrived at Hotel Boss. The entrance to the drop off point was barricaded. The person in charge of the barrier took out his phone to check the car plate number. The driver was ordered to stop at the drop off point. We had to remain in the car while the driver rattled off my name and particulars to a guy in full PPE. My name when given to the driver was misspelt. 😩
Tip #5: Lock your luggage
I realised that the driver looked into my hand carry tote bag. He actually commented when I got down his car that I’m bringing very few cup noodles. One of the least he had seen so far. Luckily, my luggage was locked and I had my bag which contained my wallet, laptop and iPad with me. The tote bag only contained 3 cup noodles and 2 packs of snacks. He might just be nosy but I don’t think anyone should take the chance. Also you know you can order Grab food right? The reception will get someone to bring it to a stool outside your room. No need to bring an entire grocery store.