COVID-19 Screening Experience

Now that I have received my Quarantine Order (Stay At Home Order) I will have time to share my own #COVID-19 screening experience. The virus is a sneaky fella. One minute you can be running around here and there during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period. The next you can land in a room by yourself for the next two weeks. I wish to thank my friends who motivate me as I went around to execute my duties. My Ministry happened to be in the essential service list so we have received our 'work as usual ' directive. This is another kind of essential service if one must know. Many have described those in the medical healthcare as frontliners as they work to identify suspected individuals or cluster and then proceed to give medical care for the confirmed patients. In contrast, our team from the 26 Local Authorities including the Dewan Bandaraya Kuching Utara and the Bintulu Development Authority are considered the first line of defence. The dedicated enforcement officers and public health teams from these local authorities continue to work tireless alongside their uniformed comrades like the Police, Army and many more to ensure strict compliance with the Order. This effort will reduce the number of people from being infected. The coordination is mainly channeled by the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) and our Ministry Operation Room reports to them. As many matters under the Ministry's charge still require physical presence like generating administrative instructions, preparing legal and financial documentation, communicating with other Operation Centres,  we were there everyday but we confined ourselves to minimum workforce. There was also the need to update the SDMC with daily reports for any announcement for press release. Our Ministry was also required to send information to the Federal Ministry of Housing and Local Government regarding the local authorities' enforcement activities  Under the MCO the Ministry of Health Malaysia has delegated powers to act in certain Section 3 of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Disease 1988 Akta 342 to our public health team. The Majlis Keselamatan Negara for Negeri Sarawak, BOMBA, Divisional Disaster Management Commitee and the Police Operations Room also require updates from the the Ministry for any joint operation. In coordinating the reports sometimes you have to confirm action has been taken and I find it is actually more safer to be out there to validate them under the healthy sun rays. For the past three weeks I practice safe distancing from meetings including high level ones as the risk was higher. I broke my own rule one day and actually attended one meeting that I felt was safe to attend. That's why I call this virus a sneaky chap.

I received a phone call from one of the members of meeting two days later. In his shaky voice he confirmed that one of those who was present had tested positive. This automatically puts me in Category 4 of the COVID-19 procedure and that is 'Close Contact with a COVID-19 Person". Receiving the news at that time, was like a bad dream. This was the third week of MCO and there was suppose to be one more week to go (this was before the announcement of extension). 'I am going to miss my gym session!' I shouted in my heart. Insetad of waiting for the Hospital to call, we started alerting each other that night (those we know who attended the meeting). 

The next morning I went to the Pusat Belia dan Sukan Kuching at 10:30 which was the Screening Centre for Kuching. It is advisable to check first so as to ensure the Centre is not crowded. At the entrance I was greeted by uniformed personnel (Police and RELA). I saw someone wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) behind the gate and I went to greet him. He interviewed me with standard questions to ascertain why I was there. I was more distracted by his yellow Phua Chu Kang boots though. I explained to him about the meeting which he himself confirmed correct. Then he proceeded with queries about my present health and if I had any symptoms that may be related to COVID-19. 

Entrance to the COVID-19 Screening Centre at Pusat Belia dan Sukan Kuching

I was requested to go to Section A of the tent after he was satisfied with my answers. I would have liked to call him by name but there was no name tag on that suit. With that level of discomfort under the hot weather it would have been good to cheer him up. For the record those who have symptoms will need to go a bit further up which is the B section. Though I am not sure about those who just want to be screened even if they have not been in contact with any COVID-19 positive individuals. There is a hotline for that given by SGH.

Section A is right after the entrance and you can see Section B up ahead

Section B

Section A seating arrangement social distancing setup

Colleagues who attended the same meeting were also in Section A with me that morning

Just to share my Liverpool jersey with an ardent rival team fan

The medical personnel registering your record and attendance are in full battle gear

While in Section A you have to be seated in a queue. One cannot pick any seat they like nearest the entrance. When its your turn you proceed up the stairs to the medical personnel at the building block entrance. This is where they will get your details like personal record, IC and try to identify which point of COVID-19 contact you came from. If you had no idea someone had been positive, the actual person would have given your contact anyway and you will receive a call from the medical department to come for screening.. Most of us under the tent that morning were those from the same meeting so it was easy for them to record our source of contact. I cannot imagine if the numbers of positive cases were higher like outside Malaysia, this place would be havoc with recent close contacts going for screening. 

So its my turn now

Clearly stated there: Without Symptom  aka Tiada Gejala

Seatng arrangement was spaced out inside the hall

After the registration and some necessary hand sanitization at the counter, I went inside the hall. The seating arrangement is similar inside the hall with social distancing and I just waited for my turn as the various counters dealt case by case until my name was called. With the present crowd I estimated that this whole screening would be over in less than an hour. I think some of those being interviewed got it easy as they were off in less than 30 minutes after being given the quarantine order.

Interview session with the Doctors before you are given the Quarantine Order or Stay Home Order

When it came to my turn I was interviewed by Dr, Irfan. He was smart enough to write his name down with marker on his PPE. Standard probing questions were posed to me to get the exact details of my association with the COVID-19 related meeting. This is the time one has to be really truthful as sometimes I did feel that some questions are not related but it is important as the extra information is required. Luckily I jotted down all my activities in my Facebook movement and my duty schedule was also in my hand phone. Yay to smartphone! The interview question include your state of health, present family background, how many people are staying in the house and their details. Would you be able to quarantine yourself at home and confine yourself to a separate bedroom, wash room and eating utensils. I was happy to note that at this point in time I am still allowed to do a quick run of shopping for my family's need. The doctor noted down my next appointment for the swab test by counting the days I was last exposed. He also explained that I will have to go for an X-ray. After that I went back again to sit in queue. In about ten minutes my name was called to another counter to collect my Stay Home Order. I was required to return three days later for my swab test. Some of my colleagues however requested an immediate test as they were worried for their family especially those with elderly people in their house. The medical team will decide this on a case to case basis also.

The Hallway at the Sarawak General Hospital Kuching

Waiting anxiously for COVID-19 Patient to pass by the hallway

Catching a glimpse of the COVID-19 Patient

As explained earlier I was one of those in the age and health category that constantly show up in the 'not so nice' statistics, Thus unlike my younger colleagues I was requested to have my X-Ray taken at the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH). This can be done at a later time on the same day and the good doctor advised me to come around 4 pm. That I did and if any one of you have never been to SGH for quite some time you will be in for a surprise. The entrances to the Hospital are covered with barriers due to ongoing upgrading works. It was not easy to find the entrance and I had trouble looking for a parking spot also (this is not new though). Of course being Malaysian we always want to park at the entrance of any building and just walk three steps to our destination. I found a space at the Hung Hung Inn at the back of SGH. Though the walk was quite a distant I enjoyed the exercise. As I was in unfamiliar territory I aimlessly wandered around the building trying to find the X-Ray Centre. I saw some excitement at the lift hallway as the guards kept waving non stop as if to warn us of something. Only when I was close enough I heard 'Pesakit COVID lalu' or COVID Patient passing by. Everyone hid quickly, including myself, by reflex I guess, as the guards warn we were at risk as the air along the hallway was blowing against us. 

COVID-19 follow up (Chest X Ray) Centre

Anyway I managed to find where I needed to be after the guards gave the green light to pass. The place was actually outside SGH Building and it would have been easier if this was communicated to the guards. They only know there is an X-Ray Department inside SGH and not the one outside which is for COVID screening follow up. Every time I try to go out of the building the guard at the entrance will redirect me back inside. After a few trial and error touring the compound I finally found where I needed to be and got my X-Ray done in 5 minutes. Be sure to wear a buttoned shirt as a t-shirt will be difficult to open with your mask on. So its back home now and I have to prepare myself for the next 14 days of quarantine. I will be required to come back again on the 13th April for my first swab test. Another experience another day so till the next time we meet I pray all of you are well. Happy Easter Sunday from Home.