KUALA LUMPUR – Thoughts of dying raced through the mind of Tengku Amylia Tengku Perang after she contracted Covid-19 and ended up in the intensive care unit in Malaysia’s Sungai Buloh Hospital, Selangor.
“At one point it became really hard to breathe. You wonder if you are going to die. You think of your family, and pray and pray and pray,” she told The Straits Times.
Troubles for the 41-year-old radio presenter with national Bernama news agency started with a high fever on March 8, but she was only diagnosed on March 16 after she found out that a close contact had tested positive for the virus.
She developed breathing problems on the second night in hospital and had to spend the next five days in ICU receiving oxygen.
“It was very painful. I also had to have an intravenous drip. I was extremely weak and had no energy,” she said.
Madam Tengku could consider herself lucky for having managed to walk away from the deadly disease, after being hospitalised for 12 days.
The coronavirus has killed more than 101,000 people worldwide and infected over 1.6 million – or, a global fatality rate of 6.3 per cent.
In Malaysia, the government is touting a lower fatality rate of 1.64 per cent.
Malaysia on Tuesday (April 14) reported 4,987 total infections and 82 deaths.
There were also 202 recoveries on Tuesday, or 2,478 in total of patients who recovered and were discharged.
The Health Ministry’s director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said on Monday that 88 per cent of Covid-19 patients in the country have either no symptoms or are only suffering from mild symptoms.
“This means we are detecting them at an early stage. We want to avoid patients coming in at a late stage as this may result in them being placed in the ICU,” he told a news conference.
There are two stages to the Covid-19 infection, he said in his daily briefings on the pandemic.
The first stage is infection and the second stage involves inflammation.
“It’s the inflammation which can sometimes lead to death,” he revealed.
Asymptomatic patients – those showing no symptoms of the Covid-19 disease – are infectious and may unknowingly become silent carriers of the virus.
Datuk Dr Awang Bulgiba Awang Mahmud, professor of epidemiology at University Malaya, said the many asymptomatic cases in the community is “a worry for us as this would make containment of the epidemic difficult without a Movement Control Order (MCO).”
The movement curbs, implemented by the government since March 18, has “definitely helped to halt the spread of Covid-19 as without the MCO, we had expected to see a lot more cases than we have seen so far.”
One such patient who was asymptomatic, Mr Ariffin Mamat, 63, had attended a government ministry function on Feb 27.
The director-general of the Malaysian Co-operative Institute attended the gathering at a time when the outbreak was not yet widespread here and large meetings were still being held.
“Everything was normal. I shook hands with a few people,” he said.
One of the people he shook hands with, was confirmed positive for Covid-19 two days later.
“Although I did not have any symptoms, I went to the hospital to ask to be tested. They took my temperature and inspected my throat but told me to go home,” he said.
A few more people who attended the event later tested positive, so he went back to the hospital and insisted on being tested.
He was confirmed to have Covid-19.
“At first I thought, why me? I panicked. I got scared. I had been reading about the virus, and what had been happening in Wuhan, China.”
He said: “When I went to hospital, I did not know if I would come back. I focused on living and becoming a better person”, adding that he made sure to bring his Quran to read, and supplements such as vitamin C.
He has a history of heart disease and is in the high-risk group.
But as he had no symptoms other than a slight cough, his routine for the next 10 days in Sungai Buloh Hospital included exercising for 30 minutes and updating his Facebook page on his condition.
“I was very, very, very lucky,” he said. “I got the virus and I am cured alhamdulillah (praise God).”
His advice? “Stay home, we must break the chain of the spread of the virus.”
Said Madam Tengku Amylia: “The health ministry is doing a good job fighting the outbreak. But there still needs to be greater awareness among the public about the virus. We have to fight this.”
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