A glimpse into life at isolation centre

James Kon

On September 8, 2021, Mohammad Hisyamuddin bin Haji Hidop was found to be COVID-19 positive following a swab test done due to an infected colleague.

The 28-year-old was transferred to the COVID-19 Holding Area Lumut Camp (CHALK) to carry out his two-week isolation, which he completed on Saturday.

Mohammad Hisyamuddin shared his experience staying at the holding area with the media on his seventh day of isolation: “Alhamdulillah, the facilities at CHALK are sufficient. We are staying in an unused military barrack. It’s like home; there are bedrooms, toilets and kitchens. One barrack can accommodate up to 12 people. Currently, there are three to six people in my barrack.”

During free time, he said, “some people go on a jog at foyer or do warm-up exercises., though many just stay in room watching YouTube. I prefer to just walk up and down the stairway for some workout.”

He added, “When chit-chatting with fellow positive cases, we maintain a social distance and wear masks at all times, even when we are sleeping.

Each barrack can accommodate up to 12 people. PHOTOS: MOHAMMAD HISYAMUDDIN
Mohammad Hisyamuddin bin Haji Hidop

“I also make sure to talk with my family by text or via video call.

“The daily routine is to wake up at 5am then head for shower and prayer. This is followed by daily checkup before breakfast at around 7am. After breakfast, I will do my laundry. To pass the day, I watch TV, chit chat with people before lunch. The food here is good, from breakfast to lunch and dinner. If I stay here for another two weeks, I might gain weight because the food here is delicious.”

Mohammad Hisyamuddin also highlighted, “The majority of the people at CHALK are asymptomatic, some develop breathing difficulties or coughs. Every day there are check-ups in the morning on the patients. If there are serious complications, they will be transferred to the National Isolation Centre (NIC), though (medical) officials here also provide treatment for flu symptoms.”

Recalling how he got infected with COVID-19, he said, “My colleague was transferred to another post where there was a positive case. Then, he was transferred back to our post. He didn’t know that he was positive at the time. But when he found out that he was a close contact, he went for a swab test.

“Following his test result, I was instructed by the Ministry of Health (MoH) to go for swab testing on September 6 and I found out I was COVID-19 positive on September 8.”

On finding out that he was infected with the coronavirus, he said, “I felt sad but I knew that I must be strong to face the disease. I am from a big family of nine, so I knew I needed to avoid contact with them.

“Currently, my family members who were close contacts are waiting for the second swab test.”

He also admitted that he was nervous about telling his family about the news when he got his result, but “my family gave morale support. I didn’t want to be infected but it happened, so I had to accept it”.

During his time at CHALK, he also witnessed two people getting transferred to NIC. One was due to breathing difficulties and vomiting while another one persistant coughs.

He recalled, “I was nervous when I saw their developments. I didn’t have any symptoms, so it became important for me to remain optimistic, drink plenty of water and stay nourished.”

Mohammad Hisyamuddin was vaccinated with his first dose, though he admitted to being reluctant to get the jab.

“Before the second wave, I felt that there was no rush to get vaccinated since the pandemic was under control. I thought we only needed to follow standard operating procedures. Then the second wave hit and it was then that I decided that I needed to be protected.”

He stressed on the importance of getting vaccinated. “I feel that even with one dose of the vaccine, I didn’t get serious complications from COVID-19. I think the vaccine helped me to combat the virus. Therefore, it is important to be vaccinated to help fight the serious symptoms of the virus.”

“Some people are influenced by anti-vaxxers on social media and some don’t want to accept change. From the statistics, the majority of the people infected are unvaccinated. This shows that the vaccine works in helping us to fight the virus.”

His message to the public is to comply with all the instructions issued by the MoH to help curb the current outbreak of COVID-19.

“Each members of public has a vital role to play. Only when we follow all the instructions set by the government can we break the chain.”