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Monday, December 5, 2022


Dr Ng Eng Hen, Singapore’s Defence Minister, has recently posted on his Facebook page that he had tested positive for the virus and shared his experiences of living with the virus from Day One to Day Five.


He is the latest of politicians who have announced on their social media platforms after Member of Parliament (MP) Tan Kiat How and MP Eric Chua.

He added that with the Omicron variant spreading rapidly, it was a matter of time before he himself would have caught the virus.

Here is the minister’s post

“<< A personal encounter with COVID-19 >>

It’s been an interesting past few days, as a patient with COVID-19. Sharing my experience, with the caveat that individual reactions vary widely.

With the Omicron variant being so contagious, I expected that it would be a matter of time before I caught it. Not that one would go looking to be infected, but with the highly infectious Omicron causing the largest waves since the start of the pandemic in Singapore, it would be hard to avoid this variant, unless one became a recluse. The assurance was that having had two shots of the vaccine with the booster, serious illness could be avoided.

Day 1

The day started out normal enough. I had my regular exercise of running and weights. Felt good and energetic. Had some video meetings at the office, none in person. In the evening, the throat felt raspy. Found out that my grandchild had tested positive – the preschool has a cluster of cases. Sure enough, my ART showed two lines! ART can’t tell the exact variant, but most likely to be Omicron, now the dominant strain. No fever but didn’t sleep well.

Day 2

Felt good in the morning. I thought to myself, this might turn out to be quite mild. Oops, spoke too soon. Fever spiked in the evening to 38.5 degree Celsius but broke readily with Paracetamol. Throat became sore, nasal passages more congested. Heavy head and myalgia set in. Ah, the Omicron barbarians are at the gate and my immune soldiers – T and B cells must be mobilising, updating their enemy recognition software and releasing cytokines, chemokines and antibodies. The protective effects of the vaccine were kicking in, to confine the infection to just the upper airways, and not spread to other organs. My lungs were fine. Checked my pulse oximeter – 98%. Took some cough mixture and that gave good sleep thankfully.

Day 3

Felt better than the day before. Symptoms became confined mainly in the throat. Generalised symptoms lessened – no more body aches and headache. So it seems the first 24-48 hours are the worst, judging from the shared experience of family members. Appetite wasn’t affected at all. I could certainly taste and smell. In fact, had craving for chai tau kueh and porridge, which kind and loving souls delivered without contact.

Still had low grade fever, around 37.5 degree Celsius. The Omicron enemy seems to attack mainly my throat – not even nasal passages. No sneezing or running nose. But throat was really sore and dry now although pulse oximeter never went below 98%. Used a strong torch to have a look at the damage and could see redness, swelling and some exudates in the throat. Ouch, it hurts to swallow. For me, this was the most troublesome symptom. Tried all sorts of remedies – lozenges, herbal, honey ginger tea etc, with little relief. As expected, interrupted sleep.

Day 4

Apart from the throat, I felt quite well. Itching to exercise, but decided against it, after receiving a mild admonition from Mrs. Repeated my ART, when the 72-hour mark had passed and the test was still positive.

Day 5

The positive line on my ART test today is now less intense – yah! I’m better with the infection waning, and none the worse for wear. It could have turned out differently. If I got infected two years ago with the original strain, unprotected without vaccines, I would have feared for my life literally. Even six months ago, the Delta variant could have caused more serious illness without boosters. But the vaccine and booster have turned a potentially life-threatening disease to a mild one – a bad sore throat. Just like many other thousands of Singaporeans, we did not have to take up precious and limited resources in our hospitals that other vulnerable patients needed more. I’m glad I caught the infection in Singapore. I’m thankful and grateful that we have a good system that all of us put into place with our collective efforts and responsibility.

In the meantime, will follow MOH’s Protocol 2, and work from home. Met my Government Parliamentary Committee (Defence and Foreign Affairs) colleagues today via video conferencing and have a number of meetings lined up later this week. Video conferencing has really enabled us to work remotely.”

Image source: Ng Eng Hen/Facebook

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