Thursday 14 October 2021

Exist Yet Unseen

As Singapore begins to normalize life patterns, I have made some new observations. The healthcare professionals have been exemplary, F&B staff have been putting in a great effort and tourism folks are coming out to play finally. The government is looking like it will soon relax restrictions further and treating this pandemic as endemic with home recovery and hospital resources managed carefully. However, there is a group of people affected badly that's not been reported.

What happens when one is ART positive and feels relatively well? Naturally you would go to an approved clinic to do a PCR test for confirmation. It takes at least a day for the result to be out so in the meantime, where does one wait?

My colleague encountered the above dilemma when he felt unwell in office and got a positive ART. As it was rather late, the clinic advised him to come back the next morning so he went home. He stays in his sister's HDB flat with 8 others. They rejected him and asked him to hang around the void deck instead. It was 930pm and he had not showered or taken dinner. With nowhere to go, he called our HR colleagues for help. The situation is a personal one so the question is, to what extent should a company help. We called MOH hotline and they offered first to speak to his family to persuade them to let him home or find a community facility to house him. After an hour, they replied they were powerless to do much as his family had their concerns while hospitals couldn't take his case. Desperate, we quickly booked a hotel for 2 nights and he checked in at 1130pm. This colleague is not well to do, therefore the company extended a goodwill to offset his transport and accommodation expenses. In the end, he tested positive for PCR and was conveyed to the hospital.

This incident made me realize how a good intended policy with blind spots can result in much anguish. The home recovery idea is a good one but how many households can spare a bedroom with toilet access. The stigma of cohabiting with a potential Covid person can cause even families to turn away from each other. It's further exacerbated when one is poor, old and left with no options but to find your own way out. It's heart wrenching but it's the hard reality of life.

Tip: Misha's Vineyard Impromptu Pinot Noir 2019, light strawberry fragrance and lime

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