Coronavirus: Discharged patient thought she caught the common flu

Ms Jiang (in yellow outfit) posing with doctors and nurses at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases. (PHOTO: Jiang via MOH)

SINGAPORE — The second discharged novel coronavirus patient in Singapore said she had initially found it hard to believe that she contracted the virus, thinking that she had only caught the common flu.

In an edited interview transcript released by the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Saturday (8 February), the patient – a 53-year-old Chinese national from Wuhan who wished to be known only as Ms Jiang – said that when her illness symptoms broke out, she felt it was merely “normal flu symptoms”.

“I’ve had the common flu before, and the symptoms were similar,” she said in Mandarin.

“The morning before I fell ill, I ate a lot, even more than what my daughter ate. When doctors first told me the I was sick, I still thought that it was just normal pneumonia. I didn’t believe at first that I had caught the new virus.”

Asymptomatic during flight to Singapore

Jiang’s daughter had used her savings to pay for their sightseeing trip to Singapore. The daughter had previously visited Singapore with her classmates, and praised its cleanliness and friendly locals, which left a good impression on Jiang. She tested negative of the coronavirus.

According to the MOH, Jiang had reported that she was asymptomatic during the flight to Singapore on 21 January. She subsequently developed fever and cough later that day, and sought medical treatment at Raffles Hospital on 22 January.

She was subsequently transferred to Tan Tock Seng Hospital and admitted to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases on 23 January for further assessment, given her clinical symptoms and travel history from Wuhan.

Test results confirmed she was positive for the novel coronavirus on 24 January. She was the second confirmed case in Singapore then.

Prior to her hospital admission, Jiang had stayed at J8 Hotel in Townshend Road, and had visited Orchard Road, Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay.

Thanked medical staff repeatedly

In her interview, Jiang repeatedly thanked the medical staff who tended to her during her illness.

“They kept encouraging me while I was hospitalised in a segregated room, kept asking me if I was feeling better,” she said. “I have diabetes, high blood pressure and heart ailments, and the medical staff constantly checked on my blood sugar and blood pressure levels.

“I kept thanking them for taking care of a foreigner, but they simply said, ‘This is our job.’”

Jiang is looking forward to return home after her ordeal, although she had just missed out on the previous chartered flight on Monday for Wuhan residents to return to China.

“The doctor apologised to me for not allowing me to board the flight, as I still had some virus on me,” she said. “I replied, ‘I should be thanking you for being responsible and not letting me spread the virus to others.’

“I must be cleared of my virus thoroughly, and be given a clean bill of health, before I can go home.”

Respect nature, says discharged patient

When asked what she had learnt from her experience in overcoming the coronavirus, Jiang alluded to the fact that the virus was initially transmitted from animals to humans, and felt that humans should learn to respect nature.

“Even small animals, we should learn to treasure them, and understand that there is a need to keep a boundary from them,” she said.

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