What is it like to serve your quarantine orders at home?

There is nothing to be afraid about being quarantined at home - it is quite simple to do so.

NIgel Chin

Published: 1 April 2020, 12:41 AM

The number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise globally, and Singapore is no exception.

And with each confirmed case, those who had been in close proximity with confirmed cases – even if you were in a taxi for a short ride – will be quarantined.

That was the case for social entrepreneur Debra Lam, who was served her quarantine orders on Mar 20 after her taxi driver tested positive for COVID-19. She had taken the ride a week earlier, and the cab driver had not shown signs of being ill.

“I was pretty calm throughout the call since I was already expecting it. I was given a heads-up by a co-worker of the person I was in the taxi with – and I have to add that the contact tracer was very patient, understanding and compassionate,” Debra, 27, told Youth.SG.

She shared that the officer had explained thoroughly to her the purpose of the call, instructed her to put on a mask, head home, and stay in her room.

Part of the instructions given to her was to not leave her room at all times, unless she needed to make a trip to the toilet. The toilet she used cannot be used by her family members too.

“Everyone else in my family used the toilet in the master bedroom, while I used the common toilet,” explained Debra.


Debra’s family put up a notice on the door of the toilet she was using to ensure her brothers, who are autistic, won’t use it. PHOTO CREDIT: DEBRA LAM


Debra’s family also placed her meals on a large tray and left it outside her door. She only collected her food after they walked away to minimise all forms of contact.

“My family members were surprisingly calm. My parents, especially my mother, constantly asked what I needed and made trips to the supermarket to buy fruits, disinfectant wipes and sprays,” Debra said. “My family took great care of me… by constantly helping me with basic needs like getting water.”

She also kept her room extremely well-ventilated by opening the windows, and switching off the aircon.

Debra also added that she considered moving to a government quarantine facility to avoid placing her family at risk, but was asked to wait for quarantine officers to make arrangements with her. In the end, she chose to stay at home as her family adapted well to the quarantine order.


Debra spent her time in quarantine catching up on work and her shows on Netflix.  PHOTO CREDIT: DEBRA LAM


The quarantine officers eventually visited her on the third day of her quarantine order – at 1am – to get her to sign forms.

“Three quarantine officers with gloves and surgical masks knocked on my door to hand me the official documents and ran through details with me,” said Debra, who added that the quarantine officers said that they had plenty more houses to visit as well. “They were friendly, patient and even apologetic for waking me up.”

It was the same routine for Debra and her family through the seven days of quarantine order – which ended on Mar 27 – two weeks after she sat in the taxi. Even then, she received a “gentle reminder” from MOH to inform the authorities if she showed any symptoms in the next 14 days.

“Such is the level of scrutiny and care our government has in place for our people,” said Debra.

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