On 14 Sep, Ng Jing Feng, 38, found out that his mother was tested positive for Covid-19. Soon after, his family received a Quarantine Order (QO).
It took about five days before the Ministry of Health (MOH) instructed Jing Feng on the collection of Antigen Rapid Test (ART) kits for his family’s daily testing.
Many like him were confused about the Home Recovery Programme (HRP), which became the default care arrangement from 18 Sep onwards for fully vaccinated Covid-positive residents between 12 and 69 years old.
Jing Feng then turned to online forum Reddit to share his experiences. That’s when another user suggested starting a group to help others who are in similar situations. On 19 Sep, the former social work assistant in the healthcare sector set up the SG Quarantine Order Support Group Telegram Channel.
“The group was set up with the aim [of providing] everyone with emotional support and information so that they know they are not alone in dealing with the delays in responses and [anxiety],” said Jing Feng, better known as Hope to his channel subscribers.
Within just six days, the channel’s membership ballooned to 10,000. This sharp increase made managing queries more challenging for him.
He said: “We [received up to] 300 messages every hour in the group chat and that is in spite of a [30-second] message delay setting. I [also received] an average of 30 private messages from different individuals daily pertaining to various queries.”
According to Jing Feng, common queries pertained to the “delays they [faced] receiving their QO/IO and discharge memo, and when MOH [would] come and pick up the Covid-positive [family] member to send them to a quarantine facility.”
He decided to recruit some admins to help manage queries in the channel, which now has close to 17,000 subscribers.
“[These admins] are from all walks of life— from university students to working adults. Two of them are my friends, while the rest were recruited based on their contributions to the main group,” said Jing Feng.
Two community paediatricians who assisted members with queries in the group chat caught Jing Feng’s attention, and subsequently, the QO Families With Kids Paediatric and QO Pregnant Mothers OBGYNs (obstetrician-gynecologist) subgroups were started.
“I realised that they had a group of kind colleagues who were attempting to help members and we decided to start subgroups that can specifically help pregnant mothers or parents of children under IO or QO,” he said.
To date, there are around 400 members in the QO Families With Kids Paediatric subgroup and 80 members in the QO Pregnant Mothers OBGYNs subgroup.
Jing Feng also noticed that some members offered to deliver food to those under QO. However, their messages were drowned out within seconds by the influx of queries in the channel.
That’s when the Grocery and Meal Delivery Volunteers subgroup was started. It grew from “just barely a handful” to 120 volunteers who have assisted 90 families in completing 468 deliveries to date.
Evonne Tan, 30, joined this subgroup as a way to give back to society. She was invited to become a volunteer leader by Jing Feng after he noticed her active contribution in coordinating grocery and meal requests.
“With the groceries/meals delivery group set up, people have expressed their gratitude as it helped to defray financial stress on their family,” said Evonne, an administrative executive.
Jing Feng added: “There was a single mother who was under QO as one of her children [was] Covid-positive,” he said. “She had no means of getting food, [so] we deployed volunteers promptly to deliver food and ART kits to her and even covered the costs for her.”
“She was extremely thankful. Her son did a song and drawing for our volunteers in gratitude,” said Jing Feng.
There was another instance when a lady’s mother was hospitalised and was on the brink of death, but the lady could not visit her mother as she was issued a QO.
“I provided [her with] support throughout the day even as the hospital doctor expedited her case to MOH. Thankfully, she was able to see her mother for the last time,” he said.
Sheyenne Lim, 19, chanced upon the channel after viewing some recommendations on Reddit. Through the channel, she was able to clarify when she and her father, who both contracted Covid-19, would receive their discharge memo and how to read her test results accurately.
“Many members of the channel also [faced] similar situations and some people [have] shared helpful answers about what they did regarding their situation and who they contacted,” says the Ngee Ann Polytechnic student.
“It is precious to see many come forward to help others with their advice, wishes, time and effort,” says Dawn Hong, 38, Jing Feng’s friend and the admin in charge of the Paediatric and Pregnant Mothers’ subgroups.
“This initiative has certainly restored my faith that the community is largely made up of nice people who want to help others,” says the financial advisor.
“I [hope] the channel can continue to serve as a beacon of hope and maintain the emotionally supportive atmosphere it has and assist as many fellow citizens as we can till Singapore exits out of the Covid situation,” says Jing Feng.
Proofread by: Rytasha Passion Raj