Mum Shares 5-year-old's COVID-19 Swab Test Experience
"We all know what a positive COVID-19 test would mean for us. Our family would be separated; if we're lucky for a few weeks. If not, forever," said the Mum.
Every parent’s worst nightmare came true for Singaporean Eeling J. Tan when her sick five-year-old daughter was made to undergo a COVID-19 swab test.
In a post dated March 29, the 41-year-old director at an engineering consultancy detailed her experience after her daughter suddenly developed a fever, having been diagnosed with bronchitis and asthma more than a week ago.
She wrote: “My daughter started coughing about a week and a half ago. We took her to a PHPC [Public Health Preparedness Clinic], and she was diagnosed with bronchitis and asthma. She was put on an inhaler and a cocktail of medication. She was on the mend until last night when she developed a fever.”
Did COVID-19 Swab Test
The worried parents took her to the clinic once again on March 29, where doctors found that her lungs had not cleared, and coupled with a fever, they decided to send her for a COVID-19 test.
In what must have been a traumatic experience for both mother and child, Tan wrote how she held her daughter’s hands, “as a nurse in full infectious disease gear took a thin cotton bud (Q-tip) about 12 cm long, and stuck it into both her nostrils. One at a time.”
But for Tan, the worry began much earlier — which was the moment the clinic’s doctor ordered for the test to be administered.
Tan even made the whole family take a group photo before heading out to KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital for the test because morbidly, “I wasn’t sure when we can take that group photo again, just in case.”
Tears were already falling hard by that point, as Tan grabbed a towel instead of tissue papers on her way out of the house with her daughter.
“We all know what a positive COVID-19 test would mean for us. Our family would be separated; if we’re lucky for a few weeks. If not, forever,” said Tan.
Surprisingly for Tan, her young daughter didn’t display any fear during their drive to the emergency department.
“She was braver than I thought; certainly braver than me. Terrified does not begin to describe how I feel as I parked at the ER and begin the registration process for my kid. I wondered, how long will we be here? If we are lucky, maybe a few hours. If not so lucky, maybe weeks. If really tragic, maybe we won’t leave the same way we came.”
A chest X-ray showed that the girl had pneumonia, with her right lung showing up on the X-ray “about 2/3 whitish with liquids”.
After a swab test, Tan and her daughter were sent home. Tan was told that she’d be notified of the results via a phone call within five days.
Allowed To Go To School
Tan was alarmed, however, when the doctor at KKH told her that her elder daughter, who is in Primary 2, could go to school.
She wrote: “The craziest thing is this: the doctor at KKH said her sister can continue to go to school. This is the kind of odd protocol we have now because the pandemic is not deemed as ‘serious enough’.
“Can you imagine if I followed the doctor’s advice, and let my older daughter go to school tomorrow, then her sister gets a COVID-19 positive result on Thursday?”
In conclusion, Tan added that Singaporeans did not need to not panic because we have “quality healthcare” and a “stellar medical team”, but the situation has placed her on edge while awaiting the test results at home.
“Today, COVID-19 is real for my family. If you can, please stay home, keep the kids home. I hope no other parent should have to make the drive I did this afternoon.”
In an update on March 30, Tan wrote that her daughter’s fever had subsided, but she “definitely has pneumonia”. She added that the doctor from the PHPC who called her was also puzzled by why the girl wasn’t admitted based off her chest X-ray.
Commenters on her posts were quick to offer Tan their support, but noted that test results usually only take six hours, instead of five days. Others expressed worry over the protocol of allowing her older daughter to go to school.
In another update on Facebook on Tuesday afternoon (March 31), Ms Tan wrote that her daughter has tested negative for COVID-19.
Gov’t advise for the public to stay home
Last Tuesday (March 24), a Healthy Ministry spokesperson had stated that people who are waiting for the results of their COVID-19 swab tests are advised to go home, as this poses the lowest risk of exposure to other people. In a reply to The Straits Times, he had added that it takes several hours for results from the swab test to be generated.
According to an FAQ section on the Ministry of Education website, it stated that “there is no need for a student/staff to be placed on LOA (Leave of Absence) if they are in contact with people on LOA or SHN (Stay Home Notice), but are not confirmed cases”.
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