When I Contracted COVID-19
By Rev Tan Eng Boo
It was Wednesday, 15 September. I was on annual leave and went to Yishun Dam in the morning to look for some special migratory shore birds. After being under the sun for almost an hour, I started to feel unwell. Attributing it to the former, I began to make my way home. In the afternoon, I felt feverish. I waited till evening before deciding to take the Antigen Rapid Test (ART) for the first time. The result was Covid positive. I couldn’t believe it. Later in the night I did a second test, and the result was the same.
I isolated myself from my family members, and the next morning, made a visit to my family GP and did a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test and ART test again. The ART result came back fast—it was positive. I received the PCR result that night—it was also positive. I had to wait for another two days before I was sent to Bright Vision Hospital, Hougang, on Saturday 18 September. They put me in a 6-bedder room, made up of seniors, aged 70 years and above. But most were fully vaccinated.
Who would expect to be stricken with Covid-19 today? The malls today are full of people. It is as though the pandemic is over. Some eating places are even fully booked. One of my birding friends has even gone to Canada to observe birds in their natural habitats. Some think that after vaccination it is okay to just go out and enjoy yourself. Well, we have to be cautious. The government has given the advisory to be cautious and for seniors to stay home. Young people must be careful too.
It wasn’t a good experience to be admitted to hospital during a pandemic and especially if you’ve contracted coronavirus. Thank God my condition was a mild one. I only had fever for two days, and a slight cough and sore throat. There was no aircon facility in the hospital ward and all the fans were switched to the maximum capacity. The ward was warm in the afternoon. The mattress was also warm, and I had a hard time sleeping. I was glad that I brought along my computer. I was in hospital for seven days and I thank God for sustaining me one day at a time. This song by Lynda Randle aptly describes my feelings.
“One Day at a Time”
One day at a time sweet Jesus
That's all I'm asking of You
Just give me the strength
To do every day what I have to do
Yesterday's gone sweet Jesus
And tomorrow may never be mine
Lord help me today, show me the way
One day at a time
My wife was tested positive too, but she was placed on home recovery. Thank God my daughter, Hannah, was her caregiver. She was tested negative throughout her Quarantine Order (QO). It is of the Lord’s mercy and grace that we were sustained. Sis Ang Liang shared with me a verse from the book of Psalms: “And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me” (Ps. 50:15). A very reassuring verse indeed!
I was discharged from hospital on Saturday, 25 September.
I want to praise the Lord for many words of encouragement and prayer support I received from church members, fellow pastors, and even former Gracians. Praise the Lord for the prayer band in church praying consistently for my family and myself. Thank you brethren. “O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come” (Ps. 65:2 KJV).
Here are the lessons I have learnt:
1. Don’t think you won’t get infected with Covid-19.
That was what I originally thought. I prayed every day for the Lord’s protection and His grace upon my family too, but I still came down with it. My wife got it, too. How do I reconcile it? Was there a lack of faith on my part? Did I sin against the Lord? Doesn’t the Lord care for me as I serve Him in His work? What is the answer? I felt troubled that I came down with the virus.
In the hospital, there were people from all walks of life with me—from professionals to a bus captain, retirees, and of course, me, a pastor. Who am I to say that I won’t get infected? By the way, none of us in the ward knew how we got the virus. One fellow patient told me he was out in a mall and after coming home, he felt sick and was tested positive. It only humbles me to know that I am vulnerable to it. I am not spared from it. The virus can come upon anyone from anywhere, and as they say, it is in the community now. Frightening but true.
2. Full vaccination helps, but it is all in God’s hand.
One patient wasn’t vaccinated because he had cancer. He had to stay seven days in NCID and another eight days in Bright Vision Hospital (BVH). Another patient stayed for five days in NCID and another five days in BVH because he had some underlying medical issues. He was fully vaccinated. Even if you are fully vaccinated, it is not a guarantee that you will not get the virus. It is just like the flu vaccine people take every year, but that does not mean that they won’t contract the flu.
Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us that in the last days there will be “… great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences” (Lk. 21:11). Pestilences have been around for a long time. We face it every year but we may not know it. There is one thing we should always be reminded of, and that is, our life is in God’s hand. I was in hospital for seven days and I have seen enough of some serious cases, some with serious underlying health problems who needed to be transferred to TTSH, and some with serious underlying health problems and just have mild symptoms with the virus.
The Bible says: “Since his days are determined, and the number of his months is with you, and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass” (Job. 14:5). God has fixed the number of days in our life so that they cannot be exceeded. This is why we are today, alive by the grace of God. It has nothing to do with fatalism. It has nothing to do with luck, too. It has all to do with our “appointment” with God (Heb. 9:27). “It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not” (Lam. 3:22 KJV).
3. We need to stand with our health care providers.
Working in a Covid ward is never an easy task. I see the doctors and nurses all in the protective wear whenever they come into the ward. I see them dispose the gloves and sanitise their hands each time they take our blood pressure, temperature etc., before going to the next patient. I see them having to deal with Covid patients who have dementia, stroke, or are simply bed ridden. These front-line people deserve our salute. I see lots of foreign workers (nurses, and cleaners) and I am thankful for their service in Singapore. I met Indians, Taiwanese, and Filipinos. They were very helpful and courteous to us older folks. May the Lord bless and protect them in their work. And as one nurse says, “We want to go home one day, safe from this virus.”
May we echo the prayer of Henry Law:
“O Our Father, we humble ourselves in deep contrition before You,
acknowledging our manifold iniquities as individuals and as a
nation. Wrath is gone forth. We confess that our sins have justly
provoked You. The destroying angel has brought grievous sickness
on our guilty land. We tremble and we flee to You. Pardon, we
beseech You. Arrest this fearful pestilence. Recover those on whom
its hand is resting. Preserve from its touch those, who are still
escaped. O Jesus, stand between the living and the dead, that
the plague may be stayed. Bring back the voice of health and
gladness. So will we bless Your sparing and restoring love forever
and ever” Amen.