“I am case 667. No, this is not a belated April’s Fool joke,” was what Violet Lim, Co-founder of Lunch Actually—one of Asia’s leading online dating services—started off in her recent Facebook post, detailing her experience with being tested positive for COVID-19.
It is no April’s Fool joke considering Lim’s cautious approach to preventing risk of infection.
“Cautious in the sense of washing and disinfecting my hands regularly, not going to crowded places and even cancelling my 40th birthday celebration in February to avoid bringing together large crowds,” shared the mumpreneur of two kids.
Violet Lim who was tested positive for COVID-19, identified as case 667, with her husband. | Image source: Violet Lim/Facebook
According to Lim, it all started on 25th March when she woke up in the wee hours with a “throbbing headache” and “unfamiliar tightness” in her chest.
Following that, she got out of her bed (5 metres away) to get some water, only to experience shortness of breath.
“I was not panting or hyperventilating, but I felt distinctly a slight difficulty in breathing,” explained Lim. And the awareness of these symptoms led her to wonder if it was COVID-19.
Lim visited a GP that morning.
She was immediately given a letter of referral to be tested at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) after being examined. Her travel history was also taken into account.
Lim arrived at the NCID at 6pm. She had to queue for her turn to enter a holding room where the test would be conducted.
Social distancing was also observed at the queue during the preliminary sorting, with black crosses marked on the floor to ensure individuals are at least 1m apart. The nurses were also geared in full personal protective equipment (PPE).
Once at the holding room while waiting for her ECG, X-Ray and nose swab test, Lim had to fill up a form with her personal details and travel history. The paper also indicated clearly that the taking of photos are not allowed.
The room was said to hold 2o to 30 tables and chairs which were again, placed at least 1m from each other.
Photo: National Centre for Infectious Diseases website
Nose swab test
By now, you might have already read about how uncomfortable the nose swab test is. And Lim confirms that.
It involves inserting a long cotton bud tip into one nostril, which would usually result in one “tearing [up] as a result of the discomfort,” said Lim.
“The worst thing is when you thought it was all finally over, they will have to poke it into your other nostril (Ouch!)”
After being “cleared” for both the ECG and X-ray test, Lim was told to return home and wait for her swab results. Right then, she said that she was “quite confident” that she was going to be tested negative.
She would receive a call within 24 hours if she was tested positive. Otherwise, an SMS would be sent to her within 48 hours.
Tested positive for COVID-19
The next day, Lim received a call from the NCID to inform her that she was tested positive for COVID-19.
“I could not believe my ears. My heart sank. I was in shock,” wrote Lim.
The NCID staff comforted Lim and advised her to pack her bag with at least 2 sets of clothes, toiletries and other necessities. Lim was also told that an ambulance would come to pick her within the next two hours.
Lim revealed the news to her husband who “was stunned” and both gathered their children to explain the situation to them.
She also told everyone to get tested soon, as there might be a chance she has exposed them to the virus.
When the ambulance came, she was assisted by an ambulance driver who donned a full PPE. As part of the protocol, Lim had to sit at the end of the ambulance and adhere to the 1m distance rule.
Felt comforted and grateful
And it can be a nerve-wracking experience for anyone, not just Lim in this situation. But Lim said that she felt “comforted” in the short trip to the hospital.
The ambulance driver, 64 years old Mr Nasir, had done what he could to ease her nervousness, from helping Lim with her luggage and telling her funny stories.
“And for this, I am extremely grateful,” she said.
Photo: Violet Lim / Facebook
Still in disbelief
36 hours had passed from the time Lim finally settled into her ward, which was said to be Ward 5F.
She said that she was “still reeling from shock and disbelief”, and “did everything within [her] control.” She said that she is not certain as to how long she will have to stay here.
“This was the last place I expected to be in.”
But amid all the happenings, Lim shared that the doctors and nurses were “always positive and upbeat” throughout conducting the tests, despite having to “deal with so many patients every hour, every day”.