May 31, 2020

Virus and I

We are entering the second half of the year so far, and I believe we all agree that this year is just unbelievable. What were we thinking in January, to be scared of the possibility of the third world war when we were already at war with the pandemic? This viral enemy that kill indiscriminately, at times insidious and covert, rapidly and surely draining our finite resources to combat it.

I was unfortunate to be absent from writing for too long. With the virus occupying most of my responsibility at work, I was dismayed when my laptop broke down in March. With almost half of the services in the country halted to contain the spread of the virus, I was left at the mercy of the clinic's computer to do my work. Writing about my travelog will have to stop, for now, seeing that all my pictures and videos are stored locally in the old laptop.

For me, all of these started last year when we are dividing our work portfolios. Before this, I am responsible for managing verbal autopsies in our health clinic, along with other two minor portfolios that I haven't been briefed about. Then, I was tasked to handle infectious diseases as well. Prior COVID-19, our infectious disease folder include ebola and MERS-COV guidelines, forms, and work flowcharts. In December, 2019 nCOV was added to the list. I was okay with all this because we never thought it was going to hit us big at that time.

Because I handled 2019-nCOV (later coined to COVID-19) for my health clinic at that time, I had to attend all district level meetings pertaining to this virus. I was responsible to make sure our health clinic is ready to attend COVID-19 cases at all time. Thus, my work slowly piled up from setting up camps outside clinic, making flowcharts and flow map, updating the staff regarding changes in PKD directives, addressing issues and concerns, making rosters, and also managing the 'front line' allowances for the staff. I was put in a different position because in other clinics, the ones who handle COVID-19 are all the MOICs (MO In Charge) while I just handle one portfolio, not the whole clinic.

But I was lucky, in a lot of ways. Yes, the pandemic surged in March and early April but the cases are significantly low in my district. My clinic, in particular, although it is the third busiest in the district it is still way under capacity. I consider my clinic as a rural clinic, even though the building is new and fancier than the others. Changes in how clinics operate during movement control order (MCO) to combat the spread of the virus also have seen a dramatic decrease of patients that come to to the clinic seeking treatment.

We still saw some actions, tho. Those PPEs that are sweaty and stuffy? Yes, we all wear that as well. Bringing suspected patients into isolation bay, referring to our FMSes through plastic-wrapped phone and distorted voice, deconning (decontaminate) ourselves once patient had safely been brought away by ambulance - we all done that except making selfies, that is. I find it to be callous of me to have selfies in PPEs, simply because I think we are fortunate enough not to wear that too often.

Personally, COVID-19 affected me greatly in other ways. Firstly, my parents in law had planned for them together with my wife and I to do Umrah pilgrimage back in March. I had already had my leaves approved and I drove from Penang back to KL on the weekends we are scheduled to fly. The day before our departure, Saudi Arabia had barred all pilgrims from entering Mecca and Madina, the two Holy cities in Islam. Further confirmation with our pilgrimage tour company had reaffirmed the worst - our Umrah was cancelled until further notice.

The quarantine, or the MCO, came in two-week stages. Among the many restrictions imposed to the public, the one affecting me the most is the interstate travel ban. My wife and I are working in different states and usually, one of us will take turns travelling to each other every two weeks. The ban was lifted partially in May to allow couples like us to travel home to our significant others. Thus, after almost two months of not seeing each other, my wife finally drove all the way from KL to Penang to meet me. Such reunion was special and holds a different significance to both of us.

In term of career-wise, both of us are working in essential services, although in different fields. Our finances are not affected at all during this troubling times and for that we are very grateful. My locum hours are cut shorter by two hours in view of the locum clinic has to be closed earlier than normal, meaning I am losing around 20% of my usual locum income. Despite that, my salary was adjusted in May, making me earning back what I was due starting from October last year. Together with the COVID-19 allowances and Eid bonus, I have enough as usual.

Seeing the trend of the cases in the past two weeks, our district is currently in the process of preparing for post-COVID health clinic settings. The new norms must stay and changes must be done to ensure all clinics stay ready to accept any unforeseeable events like a new surge of infection in the future. The task fall back to my colleague who is the MOIC for the clinic. I gradually had more free time on my hands due to this, and I hope that a vaccine is found soon so that we can contain this more properly and surely. With this I end my writing for now. Stay vigilant and stay safe, everyone.



  1. it is refreshing to read fellow hcp updating their blog about covid-19. tbh,im curious and a bit excited with how these new norms will assimilate in our daily life.

  2. Baru baca. Must be tough attending all those meetings. Still the person in charge for COVID till now ke?

    1. It's more annoying rather than tough. I'm no longer just in charge of COVID19 tho.. I'm the bleeding MOIC 😭😭

    2. MOIC tu sama ngn YM? Yg kira mcm head of KK tu kan?

    3. Aah betul. Genap setahun pastu terus kena jadi YM 😭