During this Covid-19 pandemic, TWC2’s social workers and volunteers stay in regular contact with our clients. We hear innumerable stories from these workers each giving precious “on the ground” snapshots of what life is like under the lockdown. Here are our choice stories:

Twelve hours in a chair; sandwiches for dinner

27 April 2020: Worker Aries-F has been sent by his dorm to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) for further tests. After being swabbed, the men are told they must remain in-situ for about 12 hours to await their test results. Similar to the story from Aries-D, he too only has a plastic chair under a tent.

“Dinner” comprised some snacks and sandwiches brought in at around 5:30pm.  There’s a long queue of workers, virtually all Indian or Bangladeshi.

KTPH’s testing and waiting area

As nightfall approached, some just lay down on the concrete floor to get some shut-eye. The hospital provided blankets.

If the test result comes back positive, he will be admitted and warded in the hospital — or possibly moved to another hospital. Presumably, if the result is negative, he will be returned to his original room in the dorm, or perhaps another holding area. Aries-F is not sure.

Slow wifi

26 April 2020: Migrant worker Aries-E is stuck in a dormitory known as Cochrane Lodge 1 (it’s under quarantine)  reports that wifi is slow and basically unusable. The free data cards that Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) gives out requires them to swap out their own SIM cards from their phone, which he and his friends don’t want to do. They may miss calls from their families as a result, causing undue worry.

Overnight in a chair

26 April 2020: Worker Aries-D was admitted to Tan Tong Seng Hospital (TTSH) yesterday, after testing positive at Westlite Mandai dorm.

Aries-D had taken a Covid test on 22 April in his dorm, with the results arriving a day later — positive. He was then sent to the dorm’s isolation room for two days, 23-25 April. On 25 April, he was transferred by the dorm to TTSH after running a very high fever. From 25 April through 26 April (today), he’s been sitting on a chair, overnight under a tent at the hospital grounds, waiting his turn. There’s a line of about 100 persons, he tells TWC2, also seated in chairs under the tent.

Finally, at 2pm on 26 April, he was warded.

Three men with fever sent back to room

Report from 26 April 2020: Worker Aries-A sprang a fever on 24/25 April but encountered difficulties trying to alert the dorm management and security about his condition. They finally came to check his temperature and told him to rest in his room and monitor himself overnight. Aries-A said his temperature was 38.2 degrees.

The following day, he was told to proceed to another room on the same floor of the dorm block for a check, but he waited in vain. No one came.  So he returned to his room.

In the meantime, another worker in the same room (Aries-B) began feeling feverish (37.8 degrees). Someone (not a doctor) came to check on him and told him to rest in his room, as his temperature was fluctuating. It went up to 38.3 at one point.

Aries-A and Aries-B were finally taken together to the quarantine room in the dorm — not sure when but may be 25 April. They stayed there only for an hour, as a security personnel (not the doctor) checked their temperature and, observing it to be fluctuating, ordered them to return to their room (again) and to self-monitor.  They were told that should they continue to be feverish, they could see the doctor the following day. The workers self-medicated with Panadol.

Overnight, the other workers in that room began to get unnerved. Another room-mate Aries-C checked his temperature and found it to be as about 37.8 degrees. Aries-B’s temperature reached a high of 39.0 degrees.

The dorm management was summoned again and staff took Aries-A and Aries-B away to have their temperatures re-verified. After an hour, they were then sent back to their room for the night, and advised that a doctor would talk to them the next day.

On 26 April 2020, an onsite dorm doctor finally did a video-consult with Aries-A and Aries-B today and determined that they just needed some more meds to control their fever, as they didn’t seem to exhibit any respiratory symptoms. They were advised to continue with Panadol — and now, at time of writing, were feeling better.

Aries-C also reports feeling better.