Aug 12, 2021

My Reflections after surviving a Home Quarantine for nearly 2 weeks with my Family

The notification was swift. It came via Ale’s class chat on Microsoft Teams, that her entire class was put on Leave of Absence (LOA) immediately due to a confirmed COVID-19 case in the class. She was to stay at home until further updates from MOH but we didn’t have to wait long. By afternoon, we received official notice that she was on LOA and by the next day, it was upgraded to a 12-day Quarantine Order (QO).

When reality finally sank in, my first thought was, “Wah, like that also can kena.”

I guess it’s one of those things that you see it happen around you, but never thought that it would actually happen to you. But it did. 

A subsequent call informed us that someone would be dropping by to do an ART and PCR test for Ale, which happened the next day. This was the weekend when there was a sudden surge of Quarantine cases and there were media reports that there were multiple delays when it came to swab tests, ferrying of people to quarantine facilities and even getting through the MOH hotline.

I admit at that point in time, I was frustrated with the lack of clarity, delays and the inability to get through to the hotline (we finally got through after 8 attempts!). Looking back, there probably wasn’t any point in getting all flustered since we were all stuck at home anyway because it sure didn’t make the situation at home any better.

The day after the PCR test was done, we got a ‘Negative’ notification for Ale and another officer dropped by our place to serve the QO papers. The QO can be served at home or at a dedicated Government Quarantine Facility (GQF), also known as a ‘staycation’ which will be assessed by MOH.

To be eligible for Home Quarantine Order (HQO), MOH will look at the following factors:

- The Person under Quarantine (PUQ) is fully vaccinated, and able to self-isolate at home.

- PUQ is under 19 years old or needs some form of caregiving.

- No medically vulnerable family members staying with PUQ (medically vulnerable persons refer to those aged 60 years and above and who are unvaccinated; immunocompromised; have chronic heart, lung or  kidney disease, hypercoagulable states; have cancer; or are patients on immunosuppressants).

- PUQ is able to self-isolate at home, alone in a bedroom with his/her own attached toilet and shower.

- Household members have to undergo an antigen rapid test (ART) self-test on days 3, 5, 7 and 14 of the quarantine period. PUQs will undergo the same, with the addition of an entry and exit PCR swab.

We were cleared for the HQO but this meant that all household members will not be able to leave the house too for the entire duration of the quarantine period. It is legally enforceable as all of us have to sign a Letter of Undertaking.

But this would also mean that the 2 boys would not be able to go to school. In the end, Ayd applied for a LOA from school since he is able to do his school work mostly online while Ash shifted to his grandparent's house for the time being so that he can continue to attend school (but not before he submits a self-administered negative ART result to the school).

*Quarantine Order Allowance (QOA)

If you are self-employed like myself, you are able to claim $100 PER DAY for the duration of the QO. This applies if you are a self-employed Singapore Citizen and Permanent Resident who is served a QO. Approved caregivers who are self-employed of a person under quarantine can also apply for QOA. So if you are self-employed, be sure to put your name as the Approved Caregiver of your child if he/she has to be quarantined. Applications must be received within 90 days from the last day of the QO. You can visit HERE for more information and to download the application form.

The first few days felt pretty normal - like during the Circuit Breaker period where we had to stay home and the kids had their HBL. But there was a difference of course, I was not able to step out of the house to exercise or to buy food and groceries. And that really hit home after Day 4 when cabin fever struck.

Ale's daily HBL

There were days when I felt frustrated, helpless, downcast that I can’t help but be in an irritable and snarky mood towards the wifey and kids. Does that make me a bad husband and parent? No, it only makes me human. But the key is to realise it so that I can snap out of it once I am done with wallowing in self-pity.

One of the main concerns when serving a HQO is probably food. While there are ample food delivery options, I prefer home cooked food (because it makes the time pass faster!). But therein lies the issue of fresh groceries since we can’t head to the markets or supermarkets. Thankfully, the wifey found TADA Fresh Market, an online portal where you can buy fresh produce from Tekka Wet Market, Tiong Bahru Wet Market and 216 Bedok Wet Market. And I have to say the selection is extremely comprehensive from fresh chicken, yong tau foo to even spices. I just have to place my order before 1.30pm and it will be delivered the next day between 2pm and 6pm (free delivery for orders above $50). Frankly, this was a life-saver for us. (#notsponsored btw)

Baking coffee buns (Rotiboy-style) for the first time

As days passed, we would receive calls two to three times a day to check on Ale’s temperature. We would also have to turn on the video to show that we are at home. During one of these calls, the caller remarked, “Wah, your window view very nice!” I was amused by that but after the call, it struck me how he was working long hours for a seemingly mundane task of calling strangers and recording temperatures.

And it made me realise the humongous efforts that go behind the scenes to make all these work - the contact tracing, the calling, the swabbing, the ferrying of PUQ to hotels, everything. Imagine the colossal logistics involved and all I felt was a sense of frustration when I could not get through the hotline… all from the comfort of my home. I felt ashamed. And for all of the personnel involved, a lot of these work are ‘boring’ but they are important nonetheless, all in a bid to keep Singapore as safe as possible.

3 days before our HQO was to end, we received a call to notify us that an officer will be down to perform an exit PCR swab on Ale. From then on, everything moved like clockwork. The person came as planned, Ale did her PCR test, and the rest of us were given exit ARTs. Thankfully, all of the tests were negative which meant our HQO was on track to end.

I think credit should be given to everyone involved. In slightly less than 2 weeks after we exprienced delays and confusion due a surge in the number of quarantine cases where the involved personnel were overwhelmed and overworked, the contacting and exit processes were completely opposite. Everything was fuss-free. That's Singapore efficiency for you and it makes me beam with pride.

How does the QO end? It ends on the final day of the QO at 12PM OR upon the receipt of the PUQ’s negative swab test result, WHICHEVER IS LATER on the last day of the QO.

And with that, we were free.

If there is anything to take away from this experience, it is the realisation of having taken all the little things for granted - going for a run or a hike, heading out to buy food or groceries, going cycling with the wifey, or even just buying prata for supper on a whim.

But I am grateful that we didn’t experience the QO in utter isolation. Well, except for Ash but I think my mother-in-law was tremendously happy with his company and he also enjoyed her cooking lots! So all in all, I would say things weren’t as dire as I thought they would be. For one, this experience will go into the memory bank!

To all those who are currently serving your QO/LOA/SHN, know that this too shall pass! Yes, there will be inconveniences but it is also a meaningful pause in time to reconnect with yourself, family, friends and other things that you were too busy to do previously. Be kinder to yourself, and everyone around us.

Stay safe! 😊

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1 comment :

since©79 said...

Thanks for the sharing! It helps so much!!!

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